Technical assessment: 3.5
Moral assessment: 2.5
CINEMA rating: R14 (for viewers aged 14 and up)
Prodded by her grandmother to leave small town Oklahoma and follow her dream to be a rock star in Hollywood in the 80s, Sherrie (Julianne Hough) becomes a bag-snatching victim in the big city. Drew (Diego Boneta) witnesses the robbery and suggests she apply for a job where he works as a bar boy, the Bourbon Room on Sunset Strip, owned by Dennis (Alec Baldwin). Sherrie is convinced because besides being penniless and homeless, she will get to meet her rock-star idol Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) who’s slated to give his farewell performance at the Bourbon Room over the weekend. Dennis hires her as waitress, without knowing that she sings and that Drew, in fact, sings with his own band. Sherrie and Drew get to become close friends, sharing each other’s dreams of hitting it big someday as singers.
To enjoy Rock of Ages, don’t take the plot more seriously than its director Adam Shankman does. From the first tune, blurted out on a bus and which defies all sense of logic (can you really find so many bus riders singing that professionally on a ride?) to the last toingggg of an electric guitar, Shankman has his tongue cheekily planted in his cheek. And that’s what makes Rock of Ages entertaining. It has a stunt casting but its biggest stars do roles against their types with earnestness and intensity—which only shows how versatile these stars can be. Picture a gun toting Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible and see how many worlds away that is from Tom Cruise as a spoofily dramatic rock star. Recall what the lovely and lovable Catherine Zeta Jones is in any of her movies and watch her here as a domineering, moralizing politician’s wife with a past to live down, whoa! Compare Paul Giamatti as a maintenance man in Lady in the Water with the venal star manager in Rock of Ages. And what of Alec Baldwin as bar owner Dennis in Rock of Ages and Alec Baldwin as Atty. Campbell Alexander in My Sister’s Keeper—goodness, they’re oil and water!
Rock of Ages being a musical has a right to a predictable plot and some mash—aside from the “oldies” sung, the script possesses no originality; besides, Hough and Boneta are bland leads, but what the heck, the song and dance performances are high-spirited and the actors are obviously having a lot of fun, so, just sing and sway along! Despite the infectious sense of fun Rock of Ages conveys, it may not be passed on as totally wholesome entertainment for the whole family. Precocious 14-year-olds may be able to handle it, as long as they are advised by parents, teachers and other concerned elders about extra-marital sex and adult entertainment the movie contains.