I've always enjoyed musicals and I'm certain that is largely due to my being a child of the golden age of Disney films. I grew up watching and re-watching Aladdin, The Lion King, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame until I had them memorized. To this day, I can still belt out a passable version of 'A Whole New World.'
I may be swayed and could probably sway my wife (who is a really beautiful singer) to record a rendition of 'A Whole New World' for ya'll if we got enough interest.
Therefore, it is always cause for celebration when a new musical roles around and Rock of Ages certainly tries to party like it's the summer of '69. Rock of Ages is the big screen adaptation of a 2006 Broadway musical by the same name. First and foremost, Rock of Ages, very predictably, is a heartfelt love letter to Rock & Roll. If you are not a fan of Rock music or don't have fond memories of the era then this movie isn't for you.
The difference between almost every other musical and Rock of Ages is that the songs in a film like Hairspray are unique and specifically written for the scene at hand. For example, in Hairspray when the protagonist Tracy Turnblad wakes up in Baltimore the song that plays is appropriately titled 'Good Morning Baltimore.' In Rock of Ages the songs that are used are a greatest hits of the 80s collection. When the antagonist sets up the films flimsy conflict she sings 'Hit me with your best shot.' It's not a bad change. It would have been odd to have well-known and up-and-coming Rock Gods singing ballads instead of rock songs.
Speaking of Hairspray, Rock of Ages is directed by Adam Shankman who was the mastermind behind Hairspray. His style is very distinct and definitely comes across in the musical numbers. The dramatic, non-musical parts are where the film starts to suffer. I think that the source material for Hairspray is far superior to Rock of Ages and Shankman simply had less to work with.
Rock of Ages certainly isn't Oscar material, with the possible exception of Tom Cruise who plays veteran rocker Stacee Jaxx. Cruise has long been one of Hollywood's most bankable stars, but in the latter part of his career he has started playing off-beat side characters and ends up completely stealing the show. For example, his performance as Les Grossman was by far one of the best parts of Tropic Thunder. Cruise's performance as Stacee Jaxx might be the best performance of his career and is an absolutely joy to watch.
In short, if you can forget about the nonsensical plot and say to yourself 'I Wanna Rock' then Rock of Ages is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Did any of you catch Rock of Ages? Quick, what's your favorite 80s rock song?