13/06/2012

Rock of Ages

Chris D'Arienzo's award-winning jukebox musical only made it to our shores last year, but by that time we were already being bombarded with an endless amount of on-set shots of the Hollywood adaptation. Since Chicago made musical movies credible again in 2002 and Glee made karaoke a little more acceptable and a lot more annoying in 2009, producers have been jumping at the opportunity to turn Broadway and West End hits into box office smashes with the help of some bankable movie stars. And while Rock of Ages is as toe-tappingly ridiculous as you'd expect, it doesn't exactly fly as musical. The whole point of unexpected numbers in a musical is to drive the plot along and make the boring exposition bits more bearable, but as the film has been constructed around 80s hair metal anthems instead of featuring songs that were written specifically for the show, it feels like the film presses pause every so often for a number which loosely relates to whatever the dull main characters are up to.

Thankfully the numbers themselves are bursting with energy, sparks, metal horns and impressive choreography but they're so good, every return to normal is a bit of a drag. So what's one to do when your $80 million, much-hyped adaptation of a phenomenally popular show isn't exactly hitting the mark? You bring in certified movie-saver (according to me) Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, that's what.
Most of the interest surrounding this glorified karaoke show has focused on Tom Cruise doing the unthinkable and dropping his srs face to have a bit of a sing-song, and director Adam Shankman should count himself lucky Cruise agreed to play the fictional rock god Stacee Jaxx, because from the moment he appears on screen in a pair of pants complete with a jewel-encrusted devil face on his cock teamed with assless leather chaps (thanks for that close-up, Adam), the entire film belongs to him. He struts like Axl Rose, postures like Keith Richards and bangs more birds than Jim Morrison like a pro, and not once does it seem like Cruise isn't having the time of his fucking life. It seemed like Jaxx was going to just be another headline-stealing cameo from Cruise a la Tropic Thunder but mercifully, he's a lead character and everytime he's off screen the film is bereft of humour, charisma and fun. And I wasn't exaggerating about his duet with Malin Ackerman either; I happily would've watched it over and over again for two hours.

Rock of Ages is one of those films that's more fun to talk about than it is to watch, and if it weren't for Russell Brand's dodgy accent, a deeply unwanted romantic sub-plot tacked on at the end for absolutely no reason and our lead characters being so bloomin' boring, I'd be raving about this from the rooftops instead of applauding politely. But everyone involved is so obviously giving it some welly (except MJB) it's hard not to let the numerous problems slide by and just enjoy the 80s revival lead by a stonker of a performance from Cruise. More of this and less of shit like Lions for Lambs, plz.