Rock of Ages

All hail mesmerizing Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx. There is way too much Hough and Boneta. Baldwin and Brand are the new “yes”.

With the exception of the stand-alone performance by Tom Cruise as Stacee Jax, we have seen this all before.

Did any innocent girl from corn & cow country ever leave home for the dream of making it as a singer/actress/model in Hollywood with her panties still on?

Set in 1987, aspiring young singer Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) gets mugged stepping off a Greyhound bus and is promptly saved by bar boy, Drew Boley (Diego Boneta). Instead of finding herself walking the streets, Drew, an aspiring rocker with stage fright, gets her a job at his club, the Bourbon Room.

Bourbon Room is hallowed as the rock club of destiny, a Fillmore West with a bar license. As a landmark of depravity, the puppet master of Mayor Mike Whitmore (Bryan Cranston), his wife Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), wants to rid the Sunset Strip of the club.

Now if Bourbon Street was a haven for drug use, prostitution and public sex, Patricia would have a good platform. But it’s just a launch pad for musicians looking to jump into superstardom. Yeah, there’s drinking, but not one “popper”.

As for public sex, I lived a few blocks away from the mens-only club, The Anvil.

Bourbon Room is run by Denis Dupree (Alec Baldwin), a man twenty years older than his patrons but a living legend (like Bill Graham), and his loony assistant Lonny (Russell Brand).

With the Mayor’s wife rallying Christian women to stage protests, Dupree brings Stacee Jaxx back. The lead singer of an insanely famous rock band, heralded for its debauchery, Jaxx will be performing for the first time as a solo artist. Jaxx is a sex god consuming the souls of Jim Morrison, Keith Richards, and Axl Rose (pre-plastic surgery). His entourage includes his monkey sidekick, manager Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti) and semi-naked girls. Stacee is drunk and ready for sex. Watch out Lonny!

I would see ROCK OF AGES again, if it cut out everything except Cruise’s performance. Please consider that for the Blu-ray.

Everyone sings – even Giamatti! Or is it Auto-tune? Who cares! They all deliver as if they were born to sing. Baldwin and Brand have their show-stopper, REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling”, but it is Cruise that is mesmerizing. He is fantastic. He can sing.

After seeing the remake of FOOTLOOSE and now ROCK OF AGES starring Hough, I’ve had enough of her. She loses her charm fast. Boneta may be a huge star in Mexico, but he lacks charisma and sex appeal. While his imdb.com bio says he’s been a star since childhood, he looks like someone who once was fat and now is thin and unsure of himself. This is Boneta’s first movie and even though he has impressive singing credentials, awards and Latin Grammys, he does not – yet – come across with a star’s sexual magnetism.

However, Cruise does. When Cruise arrives as The Demon’s Son, everyone else recedes into his shadow. As it should be. All of Cruise’s songs, especially his sexually charged duet with a Rolling Stone journalist Constance Sack (Malin Akerman) to Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is,” are appropriately PG. Akerman is miscast. I loved Cruise’s finale, Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”. Cruise makes all the songs his own.

Directed by Adam Shankman, ROA has a lot of energy but Shankman fails to make Hough and Boneta likeable. I cared more about Mary J. Blige’s strip club manager. Shankman does serve Cruise. The writers, Justin Theroux, Chris D”Arienzo do their best to make the movie as raunchy as allowed.

Victoria Alexander is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association: www.bfca.org/ and the Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/. Victoria’s weekly column, “The Devil’s Hammer,” is posted every Monday. http://www.fromthebalcony.com/editorials.php.

If you would like to be included on Victoria’s private distribution list for a weekly preview, just email her at masauu@aol.com. Victoria lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email. You can contact Victoria directly at masauu@aol.com.

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