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Monday, July 9, 2012

Rock of Ages - Review (2012)

What can you say about Rock of Ages that the trailer does not already say?  It is a star-studded, cliche-ridden, cheesy attempt to integrate old hair band songs into a story you have seen many times before.
I have heard over and over again, "You have to see the play 'Rock of Ages,' you'd love it." Those who recommended the play were probably correct by doing so being that I was the guy that cried when my brother vandalized my Twisted Sister posters (I was a kid then, it did not happen recently,) the same guy that had an emotional connection spark up when I was front row at a Journey cover band concert (OK, this happened more recently, but it was totally platonic.)  The stage production looked to have the perfect chemistry for a live audience, the energy and excitement of the theater combined with some of the classic, over-the-top songs of the big hair era of rock music that would be fun to sing along to.   Now, throw in Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and celluloid and suddenly the chemistry changes from a bang to a fizzle - the once perfectly aligned pieces fit now fit as well Meatloaf in size 30 leather pants.  A lesson Hollywood can't seem to learn is that what works on stage is not guaranteed to work on film and vice versa.

Lucky for them is there is no film here - what we get is an extended episode of Glee with rock music and sans Jane Lynch.  There is not an interesting character or plot line, everything is directed toward making sure all the licensed music gets it fair share of screen time - everything else is just a delivery system.  In this wonderful place, even dialogue is of little use - it's sole purpose to setup the next song to be crow-barred into the "story."  Don't worry, I am not oblivious, I completely understand that this film is all about delivering those familiar old rock songs to the masses...point taken.  But, did it have to be done in such an obvious way?  Did they write this script in over a weekend while downing Natty Light?  Oh yeah, and did the renditions of the songs need to be this terrible?  They come at you from every direction and from everybody, including a poorly wigged (and cast) Alec Baldwin (his talk-singing is sad to see from multiple-Emmy winning actor.)

One thing that would have helped would have been a cameo by someone with some real pipes.  Hhmmm, let me see.  I'll just pick a name out off the top of my head... maybe Dee Snider!?!    I would assume the option was there, not many of the 80's/90's rock singers have much to do besides "Celebrity Apprentice."  My guess why there was a lack of cameos had to do with the fact that if those guys sang just one note sung they would reveal the cast to be the amateur singers they are.  So, the songs didn't work. Well, we always have the great story...that just happened to be so predictable they should have just ended it with a "and they lived happily ever after."  They usually reserve predictable crap like this for very special episodes of "Saved by the Bell"  - no kidding you could assemble the majority of the storyline together from a series of adventures of Zach Morris and company.

As for the acting, Tom Cruise (continuing his never-ending quest for re-acceptance) does little more than play dress up.  Sure, he sings well enough, but portraying someone that is this out of character for him just seems desperate right about now.  Honestly I think it would have a better move to fill the role with someone with less of an on screen familiarity - Steve Buscemi would have been fun (just an idea.)  The other male lead was anything but interesting, so little so I am not going to even take the time to find out his name - every time he sang or spoke I checked out, I am sure we will not be hearing from him again.  Other male lead. sorry, you stink.  Catherine Zeta Jones in a completely unnecessary storyline, proves again that it is time for her to hang it up.  And, of course, I already mentioned The mean, Alec Baldwin.  The only cast member who makes it out fairly unscathed is Julianne Hough.   She fits well into her role of the small town girl looking for fame to the point that easily could have been as a continuation of her character from "Footloose" - maybe no one told her they finished that film and let her just go with it.

What can you say about Rock of Ages that the trailer does not already say? It is a star-studded, cliche-ridden, cheesy attempt to integrate old hair band songs into a story you have seen many times before.  I wanted nothing but a good time from this film.  I wanted to rock.  Even as the credits rolled I kept thinking, don't stop believing.  I should have.  In the end I wanted to write a letter to studio telling them, we're not going to take it, but I... ( I MUST STOP!)  If that last blast of poorly infused song titles had you wanting to poke your eyes out, then I would avoid this film.  The song placement is not as subtle.  Note to the producers that thought this would be tremendous marketing for the stage version of RoA:  This film has killed any chances of me spending $200 for tickets to the stage production - I just can't do it.  I doubt I am the only one saying this as well.  The negative buzz surrounding this film will do far more damage than good.  I guess you don't know what you've got until its gone.  4 stars out of 10.

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