Rock of Ages

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rock of ages

Would you…like to be my next wife?

Tom Cruise went from jumping on Oprah’s couch, to jumping on Alec Baldwin’s stage at the Bourbon Room (the old Whiskey A-Go-Go) on the Sunset Strip.

Walking into the screening, I heard one critic say “Why would Tom Cruise want to do this movie?”

It wasn’t until after I saw the film that I asked that question. I’m guessing he was just jealous after his rival Ice Man in Top Gun went and played Jim Morrison. He wanted to prove he could sing, too (he couldn’t, but was passable).

Perhaps it was when fellow Scientologist John Travolta wore a dress and did the musical Hairspray. Cruise might have felt he was missing out. And really, you can’t fault him for giving it the old college try. Every time he’s had long hair in a movie it’s been a success. The Last Samurai, and two Oscar nominations with Born on the 4th of July, and the underrated Paul Thomas Anderson film Magnolia. In fact, a few of the same things from that movie were in this. An attractive female reporter interviewing him, and thinking he’s scum.

The cast isn’t bad. Model/actress Malin Akerman is that Rolling Stone reporter, with the goofy name Constance Sack (which should perhaps be the name of a female villain in a Bond film).

They grabbed the cute Julianne Hough (from the Footloose remake). Mary J. Blige is great as a strip club manager, and Russell Brand has a few funny lines working at the Bourbon Room (unfortunately, he has about 25 other lines that fall flat).

You couldn’t get better than Paul Giamatti as the sleazy record executive. Instead of chompin’ on cigars, it’s bubble gum underneath that huge mustache.

Bryan Cranston is well cast as the sleazy politician.

Comedian/actor T.J. Miller is wasted in only one scene, and Catherine Zeta-Jones was just awful.

The credits show a number of musicians in cameos that I missed. Those would include Debbie Gibson, Kevin Cronin, Nuno Bettencourt, and Sebastian Bach.

The movie has a thread of a story between all the ‘80s metal tunes. The reporter wants to slam the Stacee Jaxx character (which might be a better name for an ‘80s porn star than rock singer).

There’s a mayor that’s cheating on his wife, who used to be a groupie but has now turned all Tipper Gore, trying to shut down the Bourbon Room. She has a bunch of religious folks that are holding signs out on Sunset.

Giamatti wants to make money and exploit anybody he can. When a new singer shows potential as he belts out Twisted Sister’s I Wanna Rock (one of the few songs that actually did rock in the movie), he signs him. In one of the few funny scenes in the movie, he gets him to join a boy band instead.

As I sat watching such a horrible film, I kept thinking of other memories from the rock days (daze) of the ‘80s.

The dance number in Tower Records was awful, but I thought of the time I met Lou Reed there, or saw Elvis Costello looking at albums at the location on Sunset. At the location here on Sports Arena, they had lots of great in-store performances (Dresden Dolls and Queens of the Stone Age come to mind).

When the reporter for Rolling Stone interviews Jaxx, looking all cute and mousy, I thought of the woman in the Adam Ant video for Goody Two Shoes, and how in the ‘80s MTV wasn’t filled with bad reality shows but actually showed music videos.

When I heard Foreigner’s Waiting for a Girl Like You, I thought about how that song was playing on the sex tape with Gene Simmons.

I couldn’t figure out why they used multiple Foreigner and Journey songs. But really, I couldn’t figure out most of the songs they picked. I hated them when they came out (and I was working at a heavy metal/hard rock radio station). The few they played I did like, didn’t fit the scenes they were used in. That would be Every Rose Has a Thrown, Harden my Heart, and a few Pat Benatar numbers.

Here’s the list of a few of the awful songs we had to endure: Wanted: Dead or Alive (which did have a fun segment with Cruise), Heaven Isn’t Too Far Away, Talk Dirty to Me, Pour Some Sugar on Me (which I think people only like if they’re in a strip club), Sister Christian, Don’t Stop Believing (I thought people stopped using that after The Sopranos took it), and the song that many claim is the worst rock song ever – We Built This City on Rock and Roll.

A few songs we only got a few seconds of their intros. Oh Sherrie, when we see Sherrie’s timecard, or Van Halen’s Everybody Wants Some, when Cruise is laying on a bed between three women.

It’s amusing watching Cruise fall into the water that surrounds his bed like a weird moat. He gets up and we see he has leather chaps and a demon belt buckle, with a serpent tattoo around his nipple. The problem is that his strutting around like a washed-up singer that’s about to go solo – gets old quick. I mean, how many times do we have to see women licking his ear?

When it comes to musicals, I don’t usually pick apart the flaws. I did find it odd that the young bar back who wants to be a rock star has stage fright. Yet, he ends up jumping on the record racks at Tower and singing; and on his first date he brings an acoustic guitar, only to tell his date that there’s no way he’ll sing her the song he wrote for her.

I also don’t understand how Giamatti can come in and take money Baldwin made from a show. Aren’t contracts signed before this type of thing goes down?

I often tell people I don’t like musicals, but that’s not necessarily true. I enjoyed Hairspray, and ended up buying the soundtrack for Chicago after I saw it. And who doesn’t like Grease?

I loved the indie film Once, which isn’t a musical in the true sense of the word, but…

All the flaws would get a pass if the musical numbers were strong, but they’re not.

This is poorly choreographed, has bad edits, and many songs have weak vocalists.

Director Adam Shankman is the one that gave us Hairspray, but he really shanked it on this production.

It might have worked as a quick skit on Saturday Night Live, but not as a two hour movie. It reminded me of the times you go to a concert with a friend because they have an extra ticket. You don’t really care for the band, and half way during the show you just want it to end. You hope there won’t be any encores.

This movie has many unintentional laughs. It’s really just for people that like Glee, but wish the cast used more product in their hair. It’s certainly trying to attract that young demographic, because it got a PG-13 rating by leaving out the two of the three in “Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll.”

The tagline for this movie is “Nothin’ but a good time.”

No, but it could’ve been. The cute duet with Baldwin and Brand and a couple other fun moments aren’t enough to recommend this hot mess of a movie.

It gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.

1 Comment

  • Chris Kempka

    Could not have said it better myself! Being someone that lived that sort of life, this is an embarrassment of a movie. But obviously perfect for the Glee crowd! Which explains why it’s so bad! Another step towards the pussification of America! Going soft, continually giving excuses and trying pass off a pathetic movie as a blockbuster because ‘it did great on broadway!’ Stop insulting my intelligence! Great article though.

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