Monday, December 10, 2012

Review: Rock of Ages

In my review of The Roommate, I tabbed it – as well as Johnny English Reborn, Jack and Jill, and Footloose (2011), as the worst movies I had seen in the last year.  Well, I owe a sincere apology to the creative teams and acting talent behind those films, because I have found a movie that truly takes the cake; a movie so onerous that I did not make it past the halfway point before calling it quits.  That movie is the well-intentioned but incredibly misguided Rock of Ages.  One quick disclaimer before I launch into my review is that I have history with this projoect.  It’s incredibly poor theatrical performance almost singlehandedly derailed a significant entertainment opportunity for me, but I have long since moved on from that.

The movie features an ensemble cast acting out the lives of a bunch of people tied to the 80’s rock scene in Hollywood via a fossil of a dive bar on Sunset Boulevard renown for live shows.  The plot is lined with every possible paper thin stereotype you would expect against this backdrop from the innocent Midwestern aspiring songstress to the burnout eccentric metal head cut from the same cloth as Guns ‘N Roses and Def Leppard.  For this you can thank Chris D’Arienzio – the creator of the Broadway musical on which the film was based.

Before watching a single frame of this film, you know immediately that it is a tricky proposition as it’s a filmed musical. Most screen adaptions of live musicals not named Grease tend to be underwhelming.  That this film is built around 80’s Rock anthems really makes this an even greater stretch.  In the forty minutes that I watched, there wasn’t much to grasp on to.  Occasionally there was the semblance of a plot (romantic and otherwise) to pass the time between the songs, but even the musical numbers felt forced and really poorly choreographed. 

As for the cast, their overall work is subpar from start to finish.  Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta get the most screen time and neither have the charisma and acting chops to carry a movie.  Alec Baldwin, Malin Akerman, and Catherine Zeta-Jones seem painfully out of place in this film, and to Tom Cruise, Bryan Cranston, and Paul Giamatti, I would ask what they were thinking when they signed on the dotted line for this one. Nothing in this film works on any level and I tend to find some entertainment value in just about everything. 

So it should come as no surprise that I am not recommending this movie.  It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of Cruise; you think Julianne Hough is cute; you love 80’s rock; you are in theater troupe; or any other reason you can find to consider this film.  Whatever you can come up with, it won’t be enough.  Bad is just plain bad, and this is something far worse.  For those of you itching for a musical fix, I suggest you wait two weeks and pony up the fourteen dollars to watch Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables on the big screen.  While it’s not really my cup of tea, I can firmly say that it features a superior cast and infinitely better source material.

Standout Performance: Russell Brand.  The guy was asked to play a burn out wannabe rocker who is constantly liquored up, so basically he was asked to play himself.  


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