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'Rock of Ages' Movie Review

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.

Reader Comments (21)

Thanks for sharing, Allyson. But the bigger question remains -- how did you feel about the baboon?
June 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristopher Long
just got back i went because of the music i stayed for the monkey it is what it is. maybe i sould see the play but yeah it is so funny and yes i sang over the sound well we did i bought 5 people and i said i was sorry
June 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertommydahl
Chris - I loved, loved, loved that baboon!
June 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAllyson
I hadnt been to see a show in a theatre in yrs but I went lastnight with my wife to see this, was ok, I'm not into musicals but I did enjoy it I guess,...the one thing I'm not a big fan of though is Julian Houghes voice,...she sings like a baby or something, it's not terrible just not my style....
June 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertoddwiggy
Major continuity points OFF for Alec Baldwin's 1996 KISS reunion shirt, in supposedly 1987. But, Major credibility points for the STARZ Violation songbook on the coffee table during one Stacee Jaxx interview scene. Other than that, this is a sanitized, totally unrecognizable "look" at 1987 Sunset Strip. And Tower Records (R.I.P.) was 3 blocks east of the Whiskey, not next door.
June 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
Ace, you do know this is a cheesy musical & not a technically accurate documentary?
June 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTony
i knew that
June 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertommydahl
Doubt I'll see the movie, at least not in a theater. I'd much rather spend my $10 - $12 bucks on a live local band.
June 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRock-It
I'm just happy to see a major motion picture Bring Back Glam! Especially if it involves a baboon. Though it had a flop opening weekend, I will try and catch it based on Allyson's post and your comments.

It's gotten mixed reviews but enough of them gave at least some positives to assure me I won't be disappointed. Besides, I'm a sucker for this kinda sh*t, especially considering the subject matter.

Based on what y'all are sayin', I will, no doubt, be rolling in the aisles.
June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I have a friend that saw the play several times. She hated the movie. According to her they changed lots of the story around.
I have no desire to see it, just wanted to give you an opinion of a huge fan of source material.
June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterscott whitt
i took my two daughters (15 and 12yrs) last year to see the musical in sf and we loved it, so naturally we wanted to see the movie version.

i wasn't too thrilled at first to hear cruise was going to be in it, but he did a decent job. brand and baldwin were great as dennis and lonnie.

hollywood did change a lot of the story lines and added/subtracted characters and music that were in the musical that i felt would've made it a lot better, but it is what it is. all in all, not a bad movie, yet could've been better. if you want "nothing but a good time", you're better off seeing the musical.
June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterzukram
I have been looking forward to it since I first saw it advertised. We went on opening night. I guess I was surprised at the light crowd on opening night. Anyway, my wife & I both loved the movie. I thought all of the actors did a good job with the songs. Funny story...I have never been one to go and research the exact lyrics to there are parts of the opening verse of "Pour some sugar on me" that I never really understood. Stacey Jaxx actually sang the lyrics more clearly than Joe so I was able to understand them. See, the movie was not only entertaining, but an educational experience.
June 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternc rocker
I saw the broadway show in NY. Loved it a lot. I was on the fence about wanting to see this movie but now will go.
June 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian L
I loved it, it was cool, cheesy funny film and seeing Catherine Zeta-Jones sing Pat Benatar and Twisted Sister tunes was surreal to say the least.
June 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterManny
80’s rock and roll; my favorite decade of squealing guitars and long head banging hair. I agree completely with your opinion and love the film myself. I am also a big fan of the acting of Tom Cruise; I’ve never been disappointed by anything he’s performed. When I find an actor of director I particularly like, I look for all content associated with their name. I love watching their movies and writing about them as a hobby on my frequent business trips for Dish. It is wonderful to bring along a hobby to enhance routine; it stimulates creativity, which helps my work as well. Subscribing to Blockbuster @Home gives me the resources from movies and documentaries to learn plenty about the actor, which is awesome. Airport waiting is a perfect time to write; passion is never a waste.
June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlexia
The play is my 3rd favorite of all time - saw it twice. Constantine and whoever the girl was and Mig Ayesa as Stacee Jaxx were perfection as singers and as actors - and the supporting characters were actual musicians and singers as well. I hesitate to see this movie with all of the "stars" and now hearing that they changed the plot lines... meh.

If anyone cares, my favorite play is Miss Saigon, then We Will Rock You in London, then Rock of Ages.
June 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetal Dad / nirVrana
I loved it and now I want to see he show on Broadway based on the comments above. Plus, though I don't care for Tom Cruise as he supports the murderers of Scientology, there's no denying his enormous talent. He is terrific in this movie.

p.s. I wonder if Alexia, commenting above, knows her fellow robot from "Prometheus"?
June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
OK. Replay... Somehow I ended up having to actually see this movie yesterday. Here's my review. It's like somebody took a dump in my eyes, raped my ears, & otherwise defiled my memories.

The baboon was funny. And Russell Brand had his moments, but the rest was abysmal. I smell a clean sweep of the Razzie awards coming for this pile of musical excrement.
June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAce Steele
Howard and his wife took their nieces to see it this past week-end. He reported that it was probably one of the worst written movies ever, but needless to say, he absolutely loved it; as did his companions. He gave it HUGE props. I'm still on the fence about seeing it in the movies as I usually wait for the DVD.

I was thinking about taking my boys (ages 9 and 10), but I read that it is too risque for their age. Any thoughts, bloggers?
June 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfletch
Yeah, too risqué for your kids, Fletch.

That said, you and your wife will probably love it.

Ace! I can imagine this movie must be hard for you to watch, considering you were one of the original players in the real life scene it was SO loosely based on, but ya gotta remember, this is also a screen adaptation of a Broadway Musical.

And Broadway musicals, with the exception of "Miss Saigon" and a very few others, are generally "over-the-top" and usually pretty much lacking in the taste, intelligence, cleverness and class departments. Apparently this movie also suffers from a lot of rewrites and the wholesale editing of entire key scenes and songs.

Still, I thought, overall, the acting was awesome and, like I said, Cruise has gone all out, totally rising to the occasion, learning how to sing AND even learning how to play guitar leads.

It's cheeze but it's well done cheeze!
June 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!

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