Some eras just give out better music than others. Of course, my statement makes far more sense when you are aware of just how into my rock and roll your friendly neighbour Z is – she regularly writes with AC/DC blaring, though it’s the Ramones today. With some Alice Cooper. But that’s not my point right here. My point is that in recent years we’ve seen an upsurge in what is known as the ‘jukebox musical’ – that is a musical made using popular songs already written by other bands or artists and not brand new for the story. They generally tend to fall into the love it or hate it category, with maybe one or two that I can think of off-hand gaining any real praise. We’re … not looking at one of those two today. We’re looking at Rock of Ages.
Based off the stage musical of the same name, Rock of Ages follows the story of a small town girl and a city boy trying to make it in the big city that is LA. Unlike in the musical, their trouble comes in the form of new mayor’s wife who is looking to shut down their place of work, due to its connection with good old rock and roll. Well, they claim it to be hateful music spreading badness through their children, but come on, it’s not like … wait, how many rock songs are about sex and drugs again? Okay, maybe they’ve got a point there.
It’s an all-star cast, apart from our two lead roles, and it is a joy to see Catherine Zeta-Jones back in a musical, clearly enjoying herself as she sings and dances and proves that she has real vocal power on ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’. She is really one of the joys of the film as, if I have to be completely honest, much as I enjoy it, I am aware it’s not exactly what people would call a great film. Oh, don’t get me wrong, if you know the spirit of Rock of Ages – which is to deliberately play to every cliché so they can use the best of the best when it comes to music – then the movie is an extremely fun ride, and you’ll be laughing so much your sides will hurt. But, yeah, it’s … not that great if you don’t exactly click into that.
Which isn’t to say the movie is actually bad. No, as mentioned it’s a very fun little musical comedy, and the cliches used are extremely laugh out loud and you will find yourself humming along with the songs. Okay, so some of the casting choices range on the bizarre – Tom Cruise as rock star Stacee Jaxx, really? – but all in all, everyone manages to play their characters well, making for an enjoyable time watching their antics on the screen. Well, okay, the lead characters are a bit wet, but they’re meant to be the naïve everyday newcomers to this big world of rock and roll so I guess it’s alright. Even if they can provide some of the most boring scenes in the movie. Stacee Jaxx is far more interesting, believe it or not.
Now for the bit of the movie that really, is what you came for in the first place. The music. The music of this musical is using great rock hits from the 1980s to actually pretty clever effect, occasionally changing the meaning of the song to give a new spin on it. ‘Anyway You Want It’ as a motivational song for the ladies of the Venus Dance Club is a great example of this in just one scene.
I’m really not quite sure how to end this one. It’s got fun music, genuinely laugh out loud moments, and despite not really being singers, the cast are actually fairly damn good at the music. If you like it, you like it, if not, well there’s other movies out there for you.
I’ll give it 3 out of 5.
Z McAspurren (Here I Go Again On My Own)