Can’t fight this feeling – Rock of Ages review

Rock of Ages – Starring Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, and Tom Cruise. Directed by Adam Shankman. Rated M. By Jess Lomas.

Doomed to be labelled ‘Glee with a Hollywood budget on crack’, Adam Shankman (Hairspray) ineptly directs this all-star adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Rock of Ages. Set in 1986 on Los Angeles’ rock and booze soaked Sunset Strip, Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) arrives from small town Oklahoma with a suitcase full of records and head full of dreams. She meets Drew Boley (Diego Boneta), a busboy at The Bourbon Room and a wannabe rock and roll star, who hooks her up with a job and soon steals her heart.

The club is in danger of shutting down; its owner Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and right-hand man Lonny (Russell Brand) are faced with unpaid taxes and opposition from the Mayor (Bryan Cranston) and his conservative wife Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who want to clean up the strip. In steps rock legend Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise), who performs his final show with his band Arsenal at The Bourbon Room and sets off a chain of events that will change Sherrie and Drew’s relationship, rewrite what it means to be a rock star, and cause the cast to burst into song for roughly 90% of the film’s running time.

The much-loved stage show relies on the cast’s ability to engage with the audience in a ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge’ manner, highlighting the cheesiness of the 80s soundtrack, the big hair, bad clothes, and superficial relationships. In Shankman’s take on the story, the free-spirited delivery of songs is often left to fall on Hough’s shoulders, and thankfully she gives a stand out performance. Paul Giamatti as Jaxx’s manager and Mary J. Blige as the strip club owner also offer great performances amongst an ocean of average, including Malin Akerman as a wide-eyed journalist. Stilted renditions from Baldwin – who misses the mark as the spaced-out club owner – Brand – whose lines fall flat consistently – and Cruise – who seems to think wearing assless chaps and sunglasses negate the need for him to actually act – prolong the already bloated two hour running time.

While the movie begins with a bang, you can’t help but feel drawn in by a string of high-energy songs. But the pace soon drops off, and while musical numbers outweigh plot development and dialogue, there are several times throughout when you can easily become absorbed. Ultimately however, Rock of Ages comes off as a two-hour celebrity karaoke video with little charm.

2.5/5

Rock of Ages hits Australian cinemas June 14, 2012.

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