Review: Rock of Ages (2012)

Directed by: Adam Shankman
Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Tom Cruise

I’ve never really been a fan of the whole on and off-Broadway musical scene, but I will admit that those involved have a knack for crafting what they consider to be their ultimate passion. Adapting said musicals for the big screen however is questionable, and while you’re assured a decent enough gross come opening weekend, filmgoers essentially have the opportunity to see any particular show for roughly one-eighth of the price. If something’s inherently original from start to finish, though, that’s fine; unfortunately, Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages is too air-headed and muddled regarding its intentions that the 80s-infused aesthetic it sports quickly wears out its welcome.

Never has anything been so obvious in appealing to its intended demographic, more specifically those headbangers and metalheads of the booze-soaked 1980s Los Angeles rock scene. The film’s soundtrack is obviously its most appealing aspect given how the campy embracing of era-appropriate stereotypes is almost too corny to bear, but as you may already know, Rock of Ages is completely devoid of any original material. It’s hard not to agree with critics and my closest peers, characterizing the entire production as an overlong yet embarrassingly thin and frequently laughable two-hour-long karaoke party, however the actors at least get points for lending it their vocal talents despite how much said “talents” were altered during post-production.

In terms of narrative substance, there’s literally almost nothing to speak of. There’s smalltown girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough), a presumably starry-eyed dreamer that wants nothing more than to be a singer somewhere on the Sunset Strip. On the other hand, we have Drew (Diego Boneta): a shy club worker/secretly talented rocker on the rise that eventually falls for Sherrie and visa versa as the two tackle their cookie-cutter amibitions as blandly as humanly possible. What this presents is an obvious conflict between the occasionally entertaining musical numbers and the events that take place during transitional periods, meaning the latter’s utterly meaningless and only aids in further degrading the film rather than garnering some actual appeal.

If you can stand Tom Cruise mumbling incoherently to a pet simian, reporters and avid fans alike whilst drinking endlessly to excess, then you have yourselves at least one positive element to admire. If you find that Rock of Ages addresses too much without fully embodying the essence of the time period it aims to capture, then you’re also in the right place, and if I may, I’ll now advise you to stay away from this film at all costs. As a menial, half-baked mostly uninspired and cheese-laden 80s rock-and-roll tribute that mimics but can’t fully recreate the purposeful silliness of its Broadway counterpart, Rock of Ages doesn’t quite seem to matter, to put it plainly, in the grand scheme of things as it very accurately fits this admittedly awful description.


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