I am a girl who likes to rock out and can seen on a regular basis sporting the sign of the horns down my local sleaze pit. I was brought up in the 80's on a musical diet of hair metal and leather clad rock stars and always fancied myself as a bit of a Joan Jett. What I am saying that finding out Broadway musical Rock Of Ages was being adapted for the big screen was music to my ears.
As the opening credits played out to 'Nothin' But a Good Time' by Poison I was in my element and for moments, I felt like I could've been watching the stage show. It was loud, bright and more than a little bit camp and I got totally carried away with it all. It was complete escapism, that's what it was and further in I was no longer watching a show I was trapped inside an 1980's rock music video instead. I have to put this down to the directorial talent of Adam Shankman. His long career as a dancer and choreographer was ever present through dramatic face to the front shots, scenes filled with smoke and frantic camera work. It didn't look out of place though, instead it fitted the mood of the film brilliantly and sometimes even adding to elements of the film that were otherwise lacking. The biggest example I found of this involves the classic music vid elements of split screening and fading which were used to showcase parts of a somewhat barely there plot amongst 123 minutes crammed full of musical numbers.
Split into two parts the music gets the bigger slice of the pie but this is a musical film of course so I guess you have to ask how important a concrete plot line is as far as enjoyment is concerned. I'm still in two minds with the answer to that question, if I'm truly honest.
Rock Of Ages is the story of small town girl Sherri who moves to L.A and meets city boy Drew. He dreams of being a rock star while she just wants more from her life. They fall in love and work on finding themselves and realising their dreams. Julianne Hough and Diego Bonetta are great as Sherri and Drew and if you let yourself be carried away, the chemistry is completely believable. I found myself rooting for the pair of young lovers as the opening scenes progressed and overall, Bonetta is the stand out of the film vocally; no surprise considering he's professional but still.
The problem with the plot is the tangent it seems to go off on as Tom Cruise's character Stacee Jaxx is introduced. Now don't misunderstand me, it's not Cruises fault. He puts everything into his role of a flabouyant yet washed up, deluded rocker. His timing is spot on and when he says he's a slave to rock n roll, he means it. It's just that this sub-plot seems to forget that it is just that and as a result the love story from the beginning gets forgotten by the spotlight. Of course, it's brought back towards the end in order to wrap up the film but it feels lazy and isn't enough to save the thread bare story.
On a better note and one that's important is the entertainment factor. Rock Of Ages is a film that doesn't take it self too seriously so plot aside it's best not too either. Laugh out loud moments came from Russell Brand, as Lonny Barnett, who for anyone who as seen him live may as well being playing himself. He is hilarious though and teamed up with the dubious choice of Alec Baldwin for Dennis Dupree makes for surprising fun - watch out their rendition of REO Speedwagon's 'Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore', I literally cried tears!
Catherine Zeta Jones is there too. She plays Patricia Whitmore, who according to Brand is 'a woman who looks like she's been hibernating in margaret thatchers bum hole'. Her character doesn't really get developed though which is a shame because seeing her sing 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' by Pat Benata with a technical dance routine to boot is my favourite scene of the film.
The singing and dancing is what really makes this film. You get used to some of the musical numbers feeling like backing tracks to montages and even accepting this as plot but I really don't want to hang on that subject any more. Rock Of Ages is fun and lively and should be seen like that. The choreography (also done by Shankman) is outstanding and each song that starts slides effortlessly into the film. If you don't dig musicals then you may be tempted to stay home but I would say, give it a go.. embrace the leather and rock on! I walked away humming with a massive smile on my face.
I will leave you with this picture, I saw it and it made me smile. Good advice I think.