Rock of Ages is to the 1980s what Grease is to the 1950s in the sense that it is a musical comedy love story that captures the zeitgeist of the times through the music of the day. Unlike Grease, which featured all original music, Rock of Ages covers some of the most popular Glam Rock songs from the 1980s.
The Good: The music steals the show. If you grew up in the 1980s you will love the Rock of Ages versions of such hits as Paradise City, I Wanna Rock, and Don’t Stop Believin’. Even better are the medleys that combine two or more classics together in a way that both serves the story and sounds great. Who knew that Juke Box Hero and I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll or We Built This City and We’re Not Gonna Take It went together so well?
Much has been written about Tom Cruise‘s performance in this movie. Historically, Cruise has not been one of my favorite actors, but he does earn every bit of acclaim he’s gotten for his supporting role in this movie — both as an actor and a singer. Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta are both solid musically and acceptable dramatically. Catherine Zeta Jones, who proved her musical chops years ago in Chicago, shines as a Tipper Gore-clone bent on destroying the Rock ‘n’ Roll dreams of our heroes.
The Bad: The story is about as predictable as they come. Boy with big dreams meets girl with big dreams. Their relationship blows up through a Three’s Company-caliber misunderstanding. They reconcile. Rock and love both prevail. The plot is serviceable, but no more.
The Ugly: Let’s just say that the man on man kiss between Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand is only the second most awkward kiss in the film.
All things considered, the musical nostalgia joy ride is worth a viewing, if not in the theater then for sure on DVD. When the movie finally meandered its way to the big finale, I found myself pining for just one more song before going back to the real world of 2012.