Strap on your finest leather jacket and warm up your vocal chords, dear readers, for today we go back in time to 1980’s Los Angeles.
Of course, I am speaking of the fictional Los Angeles that serves as the backdrop for Adam Shankman’s rendition of “Rock of Ages.”
The plot, very much like the Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believin'” (which also finds its way into the movie), revolves around a small town girl (Julianne Hough) who arrives in L.A. on a dream of making it as a singer and a city boy from Michigan (Diego Boneta), who works as a barback in The Bourbon Room, and who helps Hough shortly following a mugging. At the same time, fictional band Arsenal is preparing for its final show at The Bourbon Room (which is struggling to make ends meet), since lead singer Stacey Jaxx (Tom Cruise), is leaving to start a solo career.
It is a very in-depth and complicated storyline, but to sum it up – all of the storylines meet near the third act of the film.
Though I have never seen the Broadway show, and from brief conversations with those who have, the movie is significantly different in terms of plot points, casting and overall “goodness” (yes, I’ll make that a word.)
To begin, the casting of Tom Cruise. While normally on board with many of Cruise’s choices, including his notable performance as Lex Grossman in “Tropic Thunder,” I feel he was just wrong for the choice. My mother, who has seen the play, would back me up. When she heard Cruise would be playing the role of Jaxx, she shook her finger and stated her disapproval. This coming from the same woman who can predict the contestants going home on her favorite reality competition series’. So, naturally, I believe her.
It’s not that he was a bad singer; I was actually surprised with his chops. It was his non-singing presence that threw me off. It was like Captain Jack Sparrow, but significantly more inebriated than Johnny Depp ever played him, but played by Tom Cruise. Sure, he got better toward the end of the movie, but for the majority of the first and second acts, his performance kind of threw me for a loop.
The same goes for the singing. The Broadway show was always known for its excellent vocals. The movie kind of dwindled. It felt like “Glee” versions of all your favorite 80’s songs. The actors, while good, didn’t have that rough rocker voice that is carried by these songs.
While the third act was probably my favorite, the first two were choppy. You could tell it was based off a Broadway play, since it would be two lines of dialogue and then snap into a song. It’s no “Chicago,” I’ll tell you this.
The jokes seemed forced, the dialogue was very mediocre, but you could find your toe tapping from time to time. And with an all-star cast, I expected more.
It’s an enjoyable flick, yes, but it won’t find its way onto my DVD shelf anytime soon.
Final Grade: C-