Friday, 8 June 2012
'Rock of Ages' review:
Did this really happen, or was it just a horrible dream? 'Rock of Ages', the star-studded adaptation of a popular stage musical, is a dreadful movie. A film where every beat is played for humour but nothing is even remotely funny. A film that takes actors as good as Paul Giamatti and Alex Baldwin and makes you wish you never had to look at them again. It's a cringing and overlong slog which takes various 1980s hair metal classics and proceeds to turn them into the sort of creakily staged, amateurishly performed ditties made famous by Halifax ads. It feels so hollow and inherently false that it somehow resembles a karaoke cover version of itself. It lacks atmosphere, charm and any small trace of entertainment value. It's not clear which demographic this film is for, but I know I never want to meet them.
The story - little more than a thinly veiled excuse to move the characters between "I Love Rock and Roll" and "Don't Stop Believing" - runs as follows: smooth-skinned small-town girl (Julianne Hough) meets smooth-skinned small-town boy (Diego Boneta) after both move to LA to make their rock dreams come true. They immediately - as in during their first day together - fall in love. However, they are just as easily broken up by the sort of contrived misunderstanding usually reserved for the dying days of a hokey sitcom - as boy sees girl emerging from the dressing room of "rock icon" Stacee Jaxx: Tom Cruise reminiscent of his pathetic and empty character from 'Magnolia', only this time you aren't supposed to feel uncomfortable.
In the mix are Baldwin and "funnyman" Russell Brand, as comedy relief and owners of a once-awesome, now lovably ramshackle concert venue in danger of closing its doors unless X amount of money is raised, etc etc. For some reason a mother's organisation, lead by the mayor's wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), wants to shut the place down, even though it's more smiley and non-threatening than the cast of 'Glee'. Oh, and the mayor is played by Bryan Cranston for some reason, with his appearance here somehow even more thankless than his brief turn in 'John Carter'. He literally has nothing to do and his sub-plot - that he enjoys kinky, extra-marital sex - comes to nothing at all. Not only does it not have any sort of resolution, but it doesn't even connect with the other plotlines. It's just one of many cut-away gags that must have seemed funny at the time.
Cruise is the only bright spot and, though fifty next month, he embodies his shirtless rock god character with an energy and commitment not matched anywhere else in the cast. The film is still bad when he's on-screen, but at least it feels vaguely alive. It's disappointing that Zeta-Jones doesn't get to sing a few more songs, given how she won an Oscar for her show-stealing role in 'Chicago', but anyone who sits through one of Baldwin and Brand's duets will know that "the ability to sing" was not a prerequisite for appearing in this movie. This garish, ugly, waste of talent with no redeeming qualities of a movie.
'Rock of Ages' is rated '12A' by the BBFC and is set to be released in the UK on June 13th.