So maybe Rock of Ages isn’t a masterpiece. It’s not Oscar material, it won’t win any awards at Sundance. But I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun at a movie.
First, there’s the music.
I wasn’t exactly part of that hair metal culture (Not much room for fat girls in those skin tight jeans), but I was pretty into that music stuff for a while, especially Guns N Roses.
I even saw them in concert at Boston Garden on Saint Patrick’s Day, 1993. (Hell yeah!)
The movie reminded me about how enjoyable those tunes are. And it was a blast hearing the music of my teenage years turned into a jukebox musical, kind of like a Mama Mia for the 80s.
Then there were some surprising good performances.
Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin were extremely funny, especially while singing “Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore.”
And Tom Cruise kind of killed it as the “so famous he’s kind of crazy” rock star.
Maybe it was just a relief to see him in a movie where he wasn’t propelling down the side of a building, but I think he really got the character down perfectly. (Plus he sang “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” which my teenage self thought was the sexiest song ever written.)
Sure, the story was cliché. But I still loved every minute of it.
You have to remember that the whole thing is tongue in cheek. You can’t take it seriously. (There’s not much danger of that when, in the opening scene, an entire bus full of people sings “Sister Christian” to the farm girl headed to LA. You immediately know what you’re in for.)
My favorite scene was a short one. Tom Cruise called Rolling Stone magazine trying to reach one of the reporters. The person in the office (comedian T.J. Miller) answers, “Rolling Stone. Also we’re closed.”
The conversation goes downhill from there and is one of the highlights of the entire movie.
Cameos by real life rockers sweeten the deal. I spotted Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon and Sebastian Bach from Skid Row. The credits also listed Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme, but I missed him.
Lastly, there was some inside music promotion humor when Paul Giamatti (playing Tom Cruises sleazy manager) tells Alec Baldwin (the venue owner) that the band gets “90% of the house, 20% of the bar and 100% of merch,” leaving Alec with negative six dollars.
The math doesn’t really work, but it hit pretty close to home.
I’m not one of those people who is “too cool” to buy into experiences like Rock of Ages. I figure if you’re going to go, then go all the way. What’s the fun otherwise?
I found myself banging my head along with the cast, and reaching for my lighter.
The rest of the audience wasn’t quite as into it, so I did stay in my seat. But I did my share of lip-syncing and foot tapping and had a really good time.
I think I’ll dust off my Guns N Roses cds tomorrow. Tom Cruise put me in the mood for a little Axl fix.