Friday, June 22, 2012

"Rock of Ages": the nice post-teen Drew becomes "rock god"


Discos really ought to have more nights devoted just to 80s music.  At least, that’s how I felt after two hours of lilt in Adam Shankman’s “Rock of Ages”.  Everybody sings in this musical.

In 1987, a small town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough) takes the Greyhound from Oklahoma to LA and meets sweet “rock God wanna be” Drew (Diego Boneta), a barback at “The Bourbon” on Sunset Strip.  Drew, who is very sweet, helps her get work, in a world run by a sleazy Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise, his smooth body disfigured by tattoos) and opposed by a moralizing mayoral candidate Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones).

Whitmore’s campaign to clean up the Strip reminds one of the “Moral Majority” of the 1980s, more visible in Texas than in California, picked up in later Reagan years by the “Straight Slate” and Anita Bryant’s spectacle earlier in Miami back in 1977.  There is the old-fashioned rhetoric of protecting “families with children”.

There are other subplots, where manager Dennis (Alec Baldwin) admits his love for Lonny (Russell Brand) in song.

But Drew, in the end, takes the entire show, with his energetic but usually kindly manner.  His "boy band" anticipates 'Nsync, to appear a decade later. There's a line where Cruise's character says he can offer "fame", although not love. 

The movie looks great in digital projection.  The film was produced by New Line Cinema, which is now “just” a production subsidiary of Warner Brothers and does “specialty” genre comedies and musicals.  It would nice to see it back in its glory days of the LOTR movies.  I know someone who read scripts for New Line early last decade.  It has contracted.

There was a fair crowd at an AMC Court House in Arlington Thursday early show.

Here’s New Line’s own trailer. 

The film could be compared to "Burlesque", from Screen Gems (reviewed Nov. 25, 2010), which has a similar story. 
  
The official site is here

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