Rock of Ages
- Emma Simmonds
- 13 June 2012
Camp and frequently bizarre 80s-set musical with an all-star cast
With its campometer cranked up to eleven, Rock of Ages is Mamma Mia! in a mullet. This maniacal jukebox musical is based on Chris D’Arienzo’s Broadway and West End hit and features a star cast jettisoning their dignity to sing for their supper. Adam Shankman’s ninth feature exists in a haze of hairspray and is woozy on the fumes. It tells its slender story through – often tenuously connected – Eighties rock songs. Energetic and entertaining nevertheless, Rock of Ages is at best irresistibly idiotic and at worst brilliantly bad.
Set in 1987 on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, Rock of Ages focuses on two perky performers who fall in love while trying to make it in the mad, bad music business. They’re Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and the eerily smooth Drew (Diego Boneta) who work at The Bourbon Room, a live music venue run by Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and his devoted sidekick Lonny (an occasionally Brummie Russell Brand). It’s playing host to despondent rocker Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) who’s accompanied by his sleazebag manager Paul (Paul Giamatti). Vowing to clean up the Strip is the Mayor’s uptight wife Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones).
Rock of Ages zips along but the script lacks smarts and the shooing-in of the requisite hits renders it frequently bizarre. While the kids are no better than alright, Zeta-Jones is aggressively awful. At least Cruise appears to be channelling some authentic craziness – he’s more psycho-killer than sex god but it’s fascinating seeing this screen icon turn rock star. However it’s Baldwin and Brand who steal the show with their superbly surreal rendition of 'Can’t Fight This Feeling'. Rock of Ages has about as much authentic rock‘n’roll spirit as Glee; it’s as bouncy as a backcombed bouffant and as daft as the brush that styled it.
General release from Weds 13 June.