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Movie Review: Rock of Ages

June 15, 2012

Rock of Ages – A Warner Bros. Pictures’ Release

Release Date: June 15th, 2012

Rated PG for mature themes, language and sexual content

Running time: 123 minutes

Adam Shankman (dir.)

Justin Theroux (screenplay)

Allan Loeb (screenplay)

Chris D’Arienzo (screenplay and musical)

Diego Boneta as Drew Boley

Julianne Hough as Sherrie Christian

Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx

Alec Baldwin as Dennis Dupree

Russell Brand as Lonny

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Patricia Whitmore

Bryan Cranston as Mike Whitmore

Paul Giamatti as Paul Gill

Malin Akerman as Constance Sack

Mary J. Blige as Justice Charlier


©Warner Bros. Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) rocks out in Rock of Ages.

Our reviews below:


Rock of Ages Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Director Adam Shankman honours the music of the 1980s with Rock of Ages, a raucous and knowingly campy celebration of sex, alcohol and rock n’ roll that moves to the beat of an awesome soundtrack.  With sexually charged performances that are just edgy enough to pay tribute to the clubs on the Sunset Strip, this is a movie that doesn’t have any pretensions of being something more than an entertaining musical and offers a great excuse to watch an all-star cast let loose and have a lot of fun.

The year is 1987 and Sherrie (Julianne Hough) is “just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world” who goes to Hollywood so that she can follow her musical dreams.  Catching the eye of aspiring rocker Drew (Diego Boneta), she gets a job waiting tables at The Bourbon Room.  A night club that has fallen on hard times, owner Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and manager Lonny (Russell Brand) hope to restore the building to its former glory with a performance from the ubiquitous rock star, Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise).  There’s also a sexy reporter named Constance (Malin Akerman) who is looking to get a scoop.  But everyone will have to play louder than Stacee’s sleazy manager Paul (Paul Giamatti) and the protests of a religious group fronted by the scheming Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), if they want to save the club and keep rock music alive.

There isn’t a lot of character development and the plot is fairly predictable, but everyone involved seems to be having so much fun that it’s very easy for the audience to enjoy themselves just as much.  What Tom Cruise does here is nothing short of deranged brilliance.  There is a barely contained craziness to his role, that shines through in the fearless musical performances.  This is the work of a genuine movie star unafraid of trying something new and playing up the image of his infamous public behaviour of the last few years.  The big supporting cast also gets their share of memorable moments, particularly those between Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand, but Tom Cruise steals every scene especially when he rocks out with an awesome cover of Def Leopard’s sexually charged anthem “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”

Although not in the same high league as Adam Shankman’s last musical Hairspray, which still ranks as one of the best ever out on screen, Rock of Ages has a tagline that promises “nothin’ but a good time” and consistently delivers exactly that.  With a good cast and an awesome soundtrack, prepare to have a lot of fun rocking out at the theatre.


Rock of Ages Review by Erin V.  

*** (out of 4)

In Rock of Ages, Tom Cruise plays the ‘legendary rock-icon Stacee Jaxx.’  When the movie opens, aspiring singer Sherrie (Julianne Hough) has just come to Hollywood from Oklahoma to start work at The Bourbon Room in time for Stacee Jaxx and his band Arsenal’s big performance.  The owners of the Bourbon, Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and Lonny (Russell Brand), need the show to go well to get the money to prevent the bar/theatre from closing, as the mayor’s (Bryan Cranston) wife Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is desperately trying to shut them down.  But in Hollywood, it isn’t just rock icons that encompass Sherrie’s new world, as she meets another aspiring young singer named Drew (Diego Boneta), whom she starts to fall in love with.  Meanwhile, more problems arise for all those at the Bourbon from clashes with the unpredictable Jaxx and his manager Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti).

Sure the whole thing has a campy musical vibe, but Cruise is brilliant as the off-kilter Stacee Jaxx, with his strange lines delivered with just the right touch of madness (which he plays very well).  It is one of his best roles and he is easily what really drives the whole movie – he does his own singing as well.  The rest of the supporting cast is very good as well, making the script sound good in its own way, although the two leads Hough and Boneta (while fine) are really just there for their singing, dancing and good looks, rather than acting ability.  Mary J. Blige also has a small role here and is very good.  There are lots of fun moments here, and the music is all great stuff – especially getting to hear it on theatre speakers.  With a great line-up and good covers, Rock of Ages also has a soundtrack worth getting.


Rock of Ages Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Based on the classic Broadway musical, Rock of Ages celebrates the spirit of 1980s rock.  Taking place 25 years ago, the film follows Sherrie (Julianne Hough) a small town girl who wishes to be a rock star.  Despite a rough “welcome” from a robber, she is given a job at a local rock club, the Bourbon Room, thanks to a cute young barhand named Drew (Diego Boneta).  The Bourbon Room is in trouble with the mayor (Bryan Cranston) and his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who are using the “rock is immoral” argument as an excuse to try and redevelop the Sunset Strip.

So club manager Lonny (Russell Brand) and owner Dennis (Alec Baldwin) wish to bring in Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise), a rock star that could bring people into the Bourbon Room.  But his manager (Paul Giamatti) is quite difficult.  Stacee also must deal with his feelings for reporter Constance Sack (Malin Akerman).  Sherrie and Drew also fall in love, but a misunderstanding is driving them apart.

Rock of Ages has a predictable musical storyline.  But like all good musicals, it is a lot of fun.  Tom Cruise is perfect as Stacee Jaxx, with just enough absurdity to make him believable.  All the big names are really great in the film.  Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta are not quite as strong, but are still good.  The music is also good of course, with each song working perfectly.  Rock of Ages has a lot of comedy, with one “bromance” scene being particularly funny.  The film also has a lot of heart, and is perfect for anyone who likes classic 1980s rock.


Rock of Ages Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

There are some things that are best taken at face value and simply don’t need an in-depth analysis to enjoy.  Director Adam Shankman’s movie adaptation of the award-winning musical Rock of Ages is one of those things.  This is a solid piece of musical entertainment that doesn’t try to take itself too seriously.  This is straight up rowdy and raunchy late ’80s hard rocking fun.

Set in 1987 the story follows a young aspiring singer, Sherrie (Julianne Hough) who makes the big move from small town USA to Hollywood.  She finds herself rescued from a mugger outside the infamous Bourbon Room where her idol Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) has performed.  Her rescuer is Drew (Diego Boneta), one of the barstaff and an aspiring rock star himself.  He persuades the club’s owner Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and manager Lonny (Russell Brand) to help Sherrie out by giving her a waitressing job.  Drew and Sherrie share many a sweet song together and fall in love.

But the arrival of Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) and his sleazy manager (Paul Giamatti) throws a wrench in their romance.  It’s a good thing that the best love songs come from a broken heart.  Meanwhile, the Bourbon is under threat of closure from a group of proper ladies and concerned mothers, led by Patricia Whitmore ((Catherine Zeta-Jones) and her philandering husband, Mayor Whitmore (Bryan Cranston).  No matter what, the show must go on and Stacee Jaxx gives one heck of a show.

The strength of Rock of Ages lies not only with the energetic musical numbers but in the really good performances all around, especially the supporting cast.  Tom Cruise is especially brilliant as the somewhat crazed, trying to make a comeback rock star Stacee Jaxx.  Cruise proves himself as a solid singer and completely believable rock star.  The real surprise in Rock of Ages is the unexpectedly funny scenes between Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand.  Their bromance montage that includes a merry-go-round ride and mini-golf is one of the best moments in the movie.

While Rock of Ages is not as good as my personal favourite, Adam Shankman’s Hairspray, it still is a rockin’ good time at the movies.  The real challenge watching it in a theatre is to not sing along out loud.  Save that for at at home with the DVD when you can dance as well as sing.


Rock of Ages Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Rock of Ages is set in 1987 L.A. where the struggling Bourbon Room nightclub run by Dennis and Lonny (Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand) is counting on a one night gig with the last Arsenal concert before its eccentric superstar lead singer Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) goes solo. Sherrie (Julianne Hough), a singer from Oklahoma arrives in town and is taken under the wing of Drew (Diego Boneta) working in the club as a waitress.

The philandering new mayor (Bryan Cranston) promises a crusade led by his manic wife (Catherine Zeta Jones) to clean up the city starting with the Bourbon Room. The Jaxx entourage includes his oily manager Paul (Paul Giamatti) and a loyal baboon named Hey Man. The Rolling Stone interviewer Constance (Malin Åkerman) has a real challenge trying to get to know him.  When the budding relationship between Sheree and Drew suffers a temporary setback Sheree takes a job as a singer/dancer in a burlesque club run by Justice (Mary J. Blige).

Directed by Adam Shankman with good covers and mashups by Adam Anders of ’80s hits and choreography by Mia Michaels, Rock of Ages is not brilliant but is a lot of fun. The two leads are ok for their thin storyline, Zeta-Jones is over the top and the rest of the characters are little more than caricatures, but the performances by Baldwin, Brand, Giamatti, Cranston, Åkerman, Blige and particularly Cruise are all excellent. With high energy the 123 minutes pass quickly and the audience is guaranteed to walk out singing if they weren’t already during the film.


Consensus: Although not as strong as director Adam Shankman’s last musical Hairspray, Rock of Ages is a thoroughly entertaining movie with an awesome soundtrack and a strong cast that includes a brilliant turn from Tom Cruise as a rock star.  *** (Out of 4)

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