Rock of Ages, the movie set in 1987 on the Sunset Strip amid metal culture and Glam bands, officially hit theaters Friday, June 15. I saw the movie on opening night and honestly wasn't expecting too much, but was pleasantly surprised.
Rock of Ages the movie is adapted from the Broadway show of the same name. The movie stars Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti and Malin Akerman. Real Glam musicians like Sebastian Bach and Nuno Bettencourt have cameo appearances. Mark Dzier, formally the bass player in Lynam, is the bass player in Arsenal, the band Tom Cruise fronts. Seeing Mark on the big screen was pretty cool, all things considered.
The story itself is ridiculously cheesy, as it should be. The movie basically takes place in the fictional Bourbon Room, which I guess is supposed to be the Whisky A Go-Go. The costumes are perfection and the best part of the entire movie is the set design: the Glam posters on the walls and lamp posts along the "strip" are amazing. Jetboy gets a lot of name recognition, because the band's posters are plastered out front of the Bourbon Room for much of the film. Tower Records is (naturally) next door to the Bourbon and the store looks authentic. From the giant figure sitting on top of the roof right down to all the racks and racks of records inside the store. The record covers seem accurate to 1987. Of course, it's hard to catch every album cover or poster in the background when people are singing and dancing, but hey, I am impressed and I appreciate the research that went into making the set accurate.
Surprisingly, the cast sings well enough. There is a difference, of course, between singers and musicians. It's one thing for an actor like Tom Cruise to pull off covering a Def Leppard tune for a movie. It's another thing for him to attempt a bona fide music career.
I'm not a big Tom Cruise fan, but I think he was perfect as Stacee Jaxx, the film's "rock god." Cruise's Jaxx is wacked out for most of the film and this was believable. The fake tattoos Cruise sported for the film made me laugh. In fact, I laughed pretty much nonstop during the movie, even during the "non-funny" parts. I'm pretty sure the people sitting around me thought I was nuts, but I couldn't help it. Rock of Ages took every Glam cliche, amplified it and put it on the big screen, so how could I contain myself? The songs selected for the film were great and no, I won't be buying the soundtrack. I have the real version of every song covered. I don't need the Catherine Zeta-Jones version of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" thank you very much.
It's hot out, so you might as well go suck up some air conditioning and see this movie. For everyone who says the film is mocking 80s metal, I think that is entirely missing the point. The film is celebrating a very special period in rock history and, quite frankly, is making the bands we love big news once again.