GENRE: Musical comedy
THE PITCH: Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world. She took the midnight train yadda, yadda, yadda - well we all know how the song lyric goes. Its 1987, Sherrie Christain (Julianne Hough) arrives on the cold streets of Los Angeles where she meets Drew (Diego Boneta), a bar back at the legendary music club - The Bourbon Room. The club, considered a veritable den of iniquities by conservative fundamentalist led by Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is the backdrop for protesters of the sinful night spot in an effort to clean up the strip. Whitmore, Sherrie and Drew's lives are irrevocably changed when rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) arrives at the club for a farewell concert. Based off the long running Broadway musical of the same name.
MONEY SHOTS: Any scene with Stacee Jaxx in it, especially the on-stage, concert moments. Seeking a fresh start, Sherrie gets a helping hand from Justice (Mary J Blige) owner of the Venus Gentlemen's club. During a percussion-fueled rendition of Pat Benatar's "Shadow of the night", the pole dancers delight us with titillating acrobatics culminating to a staccato moment had most men gasping an audible,"Whoa!"�
BEST LINE: Desperate to find an opening act for the big show, club manager Lonny (Russell Brand) suggests to Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) that Drew and his band open for Stacee Jaxx. As he stomachs what he just agreed to, Dennis demands, "I want you to be amazing tonight, start drinking ... now!"
WORST LINE: Drew and Sherrie go out on their first date on the town, spending a night at the famous Hollywood sign. Looking out over the city, Sherrie describes Los Angeles by saying, "Its like a giant velvet blanket covered in diamonds."�
CRUISE CONTROL: Stacee Jaxx has a way with women. If they're not unconscious from fainting he's probably got his tongue down their throat. His signature greeting for all women is an ample palming of their left breast. Number of women fainted: 2, number of women kissed: 3, number of women palmed: 4. And in case you're wondering, yup the Tom in TomKat can hold his own - he actually sings all his own songs in the film.
CONSIDER THE SOURCE: Rock of Ages is an original musical fueled by the glam metal music of the early '80s. The story and characters featured in the film are derived directly from the show but the plot changes dramatically in the second act, especially its now mainstream ending. Rock of Ages is still showing on Broadway and touring internationally.
BOTTOM LINE: What tries to build as a high energy musical tribute to the phenom blip of '80s hair bands, slowly turns into a sappy, off kilter comedy that falls flat. Tom Cruise is every bit electric as you'd expect, channeling the subtle machinations of an overworked, oversexed, troubled and isolated rock idol that dials it up on cue and delivers the only interesting or memorable moments. Meanwhile Jones' uptight Whitmore, and Baldwin and Brand's hackneyed guise as the club's owners/managers is forgettable and laughable - but not in a good way.
Aside from the lack of interest in the star-crossed leads Boneta and Hough, director Adam Shankman whose had a string of success in both direction and choreography with several musical feature films and television bobbles the momentum between numbers forcing each choreographed sequence to hold up this blurry, where-is-this-going comedy in its numerous lull moments. By the end credits it feels at least three characters too many and 45-minutes too long. Rock of Ages hit me with its best shot - attempting to rock me like a hurricane, but I Can't fight this feeling that its anything but a good time ... buy the soundtrack instead.
I can see Rushdie's stuff adapting well. Lots of plot to play with.