Thursday, October 4, 2012

Not The Flick of The Day: Rock of Ages

Hey YOU! Do you like spandex? Do you like poodle haired soft rock from the 1980's? Do you enjoy the particular visual triumph of singing sunset strip hookers? Wanna see Alec Baldwin (now) in the denims he wore in the 80's? Do you think Tom Cruise can play whatever role he wants? Well Hollywood has the movie for you, Rock of Ages, the big screen adaptation of the boundlessly popular stage musical.
With a plot seemingly taken from an old Guns n Roses video (I am being facetious of course, Axl Rose would never use a plot so mundane when swimming with dolphins was an alternative), a pretty young thing named Sherrie played by Julianne Hough of the recent and even more risible Footloose remake arrives in Los Angeles (On a Greyhound no less) seeking fame and fortune. Unfortunately her baggage  is robbed almost as soon as she arrives and penniless she gets a job working at a famed rock club owned by Alec Baldwin's Dennis Dupree. It is harsh doses of reality like this which give this film its best moments. Ah, I remember the time I was mugged, Alec Baldwin gave me a job too and then sang a great Foreigner tune. Anyway, Sherrie meets  an equally vacuous male companion in the form of Diego Boneta and before long the pair are an item. Of course, there is trouble in paradise in the form of right wing mayor Mike Whitmore, played by a slumming it Bryan Cranston and his batty wife Catherine Zeta Jones. Together they plan to clean the city of its undesirable elements starting with migrant workers. Oh wait, that's real life sorry, no they want to start with the poodle haired rockers. Into this veritable feast of nonsensical bullshit steps quite aptly Tom Cruise. Tom is Stacee Jaxx, a rock god of the confused variety. Cruise plays Jaxx as a kind of perma-stoned demonic messiah who exudes befuddlement and craziness in equal measure. This is Tom Cruise by the way. No irony there at all.
At one point a reporter asks Stacee what the real him is like which causes him to burst into a version of the old Bon Jovi number "Wanted Dead or Alive". This happens quite a lot in Rock of Ages. In lieu of actual plot development characters burst into another soft rock classic. Perhaps this is how modern musicals are supposed to be. Maybe somewhere in the world somebody is sitting in a theatre waiting for a musical to start and saying to their partner "Thank god there is none of that difficult plot stuff, just songs". There is nothing wrong with the musical numbers, nobody makes a fool of themselves, well not any more of a fool, but it just seems at times likes many of the songs are shoehorned in for no good reason other than: 
"Ooh, we've paid for that Journey song, better use it here. "
"But it's a scene where somebody is throwing up?"
"Yeah, a bit of Don't Stop Believing will work"
Maybe I'm just not being fair? Maybe this is exactly what the people of earth wanted to spend their 7 quid on? Maybe the world hasn't tired of Russell Brand? Maybe the world wants to see Tom Cruise singing "I want to know what love is" while face to face with a woman's rear end? That being the case, this is your film world, enjoy it.
Anyway it all comes to a climax in an orgy of Journey and Starship tunes. I know, Starship! I thought they were tied up in a basement somewhere for crimes against music. If there is a ray of light in an otherwise depressing two hours of my life, Paul Giamatti is excellently sleazy as Stacee's manager.
To finish then, rather than the usual trailer which would give this risible trash too much credit, below is Starship's We Built This City (On Rock and Roll) in full.

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