Friday, July 13, 2012

Rock of Ages (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Rock of Ages

Okay. If you want a film that will turn your logic to con queso and jellify your eyes, "Rock of Ages" is your chance. The experience of looking at the film is like eating cotton candy, all fluff and sugar, with not much body, but if that is what your eyes are craving, then "Rock of Ages" will do the trick. 

The film is based on the play by Chris D'Arienzo and filled with classics from 80s rock bands. That's cool. The story is  too filled with Velveeta, though, and the events, on film at least, become repetitive after an hour. 

We have the perky Julianne Hough (from Dancing with the Stars) as Sherrie. No surprise here: she leaves Oklahoma to find her dream in L.A. She bumps into Drew, a brown eyed cutie (Diego Bonetta) after she is mugged. Drew wants to be a kind of adolescent Bruce Springsteen 'bad boy' but appears more like Justin Bieber. When we see him with a scotch bottle he looks so uncomfortable. Sherrie wanders into a club, "The Bourbon" that looks like a one room shack. As luck would have it, the rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) is giving his last performance here before going solo. Meanwhile as a subplot there is a conservative religious group that wants to squelch Rock & Roll.

This is the chiffon conflict all wrapped in a pink and black leather bow.
Despite the tissue paper thin plot, there is one rousing number by Catherine Zeta-Jones that is almost as frightening as an exorcism in its sexual intensity given that it takes place in a church. This one number, by itself is quite entertaining and almost gives John Waters a run for it. And Zeta-Jones is one shiny spot in a mostly standard film that goes ho-hum instead of ROCK!

For all the hype of Tom Cruise, his Stacee Jaxx doesn't do all that much. As a quasi representation of Jim Morrison and Axel Rose, Kid Rock, or maybe just an altered version of himself, he struts around and cavorts saying narcissistic taunts and murky things, altogether not very exciting. The most interesting thing about Cruise in his role, is solely his movements. As he struts and rolls around his waterbed, he is amphibian, all slithery with oil and snaky biceps. Cruise is fun to watch at first, it's only that his character is not that compelling, only an anemic cartoon.

Paul Giamatti produces a few chuckles as a shifty manager, but it's not much of a stretch. Giamatti has dishonesty and snake oil salesmen roles on automatic pilot. He can phone it in. Russell Brand is fun enough, but we all know what Russell is famous for: the same party animal bit in virtually every film.  I did laugh at his gay duet with Alec Baldwin however, which is so unabashedly corny, it succeeds. This was the only time I laughed out loud.
"Rock of Ages"? There is about as much Rock here as "Mamma Mia." The film is crying out for Billy Idol or Alice Cooper. When it's all said and done, there is not all that much to scream about. 

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