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REVIEW: Cruise & Cast Have Nothin' But A Good Time In "Rock of Ages"

Berkeley Cavignac |
June 14, 2012 | 9:45 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Tom Cruise as rock 'n' roll legend Stacee Jaxx in "Rock of Ages." (ew.com)
Tom Cruise as rock 'n' roll legend Stacee Jaxx in "Rock of Ages." (ew.com)

Who says rock is dead?

"Rock of Ages" takes us back to a decade full of big hair, sweat, sex, and of course, rock 'n' roll.

The film doesn't take itself too seriously, which is why it's the most fun you'll have at the movies all year. It's unexpectedly funny, full of unstoppable energy, and is appropriately racy, pushing the boundaries of its PG-13 rating scene after scene.

Director Adam Shankman has proved himself an expert in capturing the appeal of past eras in onscreen musicals like his 2007 hit "Hairspray" (set in 1960s Baltimore), and has once again succeeded, this time portraying Los Angeles in the 1980s (still with lots of hairspray). The story is familiar: small town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough from "Footloose") and city boy Drew (newcomer Diego Boneta) fall in love as they chase their dreams to fame along Hollywood's Sunset Strip. On the way, they encounter an array of characters, all played brilliantly by a star-studded cast: Bourbon Room owner Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin), his quirky right-hand man Lonny (Russell Brand), slimy music manager Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti), evangelical activist Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), beautiful-but-not-as-innocent-as-she-looks reporter Constance Sack (Malin Akerman), and strip-joint owner Justice (Mary J. Blige). But ultimately, it is Tom Cruise who steals the show. Who knew? (Well, maybe if you saw him in "Tropic Thunder" as Les Grossman, you might). Moreover, who knew Cruise could sing... really well? As rock icon Stacee Jaxx, his performance is undeniably phenomenal; Jaxx is bizarre, intense, and hilarious all at the same time. Donning provocative tattoos, black nail polish and eyeliner, and long brunette locks, Cruise is totally believable as both rock god and rock recluse, but still manages to give the film the heart it needs under his bare chest and bedazzled (and backless) leather chaps.

From the opening number to the big finale, "Rock of Ages" is a blast thanks to its music (drawn from Def Leppard, Foreigner, Journey, Poison, Twisted Sister, and many more). Mash-ups like "Sister Christian / Just Like Paradise / Nothin' But a Good Time," "Juke Box Hero / I Love Rock 'n' Roll," and "We Built This City / We're Not Gonna Take It" are just some of the many memorable tunes. (Hey, you may even enjoy the songs more now than you did twenty years ago.) Every number is way over-the-top, but isn't that what the 1980s were all about? I dare you not to rock along in the theater and at home to the soundtrack!

The film does indulge in its cheesy side (especially in scenes between Hough and Boneta's characters), but it's a musical for goodness sakes... the cheese is what makes it so great!

You don't have to love metal to love this movie; all that "Rock of Ages" requires from audiences is to laugh at it. You won't be able to resist this guilty pleasure full of campy charm and how its cast of A-listers are so willing to make fools of themselves. It's pure entertainment at its best.

Stacee Jaxx sings, "take me down to the paradise city." Can I come with?

Reach Staff Reporter Berkeley Cavignac here.



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