Director Adam Shankman brings the five-time Tony Award-nominated Broadway musical, "Rock of Ages," to the silver screen with all its big hair and guitar-soloing glory. With an all-star ensemble and a soundtrack of '80s rock anthems, there is one thing certain: "Don't Stop Believin'" that you will dislike this musical because you "Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore" and Shankman "Built This City' on Rock n' Roll" mashups, which will leave you singing along, saying to yourself "Here I go Again" for falling in love with every second of this film. In summary, "Rock of Ages" is simply a melodic genius that is pure fun.
Set in 1987 on the Sunset Strip in L.A., the plot is literally pulled from the infamous words of a rock ballad. The story is about a small town girl named Sherrie (Julianne Hough) with a one-way ticket to paradise, hoping to make it big as a singer. She quickly befriends and falls in love with a boy from South Detroit, named Drew (Diego Boneta), who's also pursing his dreams of being a rock star. To make ends meet, the two work at a world-famous nightclub owned by Dennis (Alec Baldwin), infamous for putting the rock god, Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) on the map. Singing their way through the challenges of chasing their dreams and falling in love in a town that charges twice for thrills, not only do they have to contend with the issues of the spotlight, but a vengeful politician's wife, Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who has made it her goal to shut down the Bourbon Room for its contributions to what she believes is a sinful life of licentious behavior and rock n' roll. In essence, the story playfully but artfully presents the pitfalls of the music industry while holding a bottle of Jack Daniels in its paws.
And if you haven't already deciphered it yet, "Rock of Ages" is a musical through and through. The medleys are intelligently pieced together and masterfully executed. Let's be honest, we knew country singer and professional ballroom dancer Hough could sing, but we were completely taken back by Boneta's musical chops and Cruise knocked it out off the park as an aging musician who has been bled far too long to remember what it feels like to be alive. From the mannerisms to the stage performances, every character in this movie brought something unique to the table. Even Mary J. Blige - who runs a strip club - delivers some very scene-stealing moments as she sings and preaches the turmoil of young girls with lost dreams. But what Shankman creates goes beyond the nostalgic musical segments, piecing together different aspects of the era and capturing the true grit of '70s and '80s rock while still delivering thoughtful, humorous and sincere sub-stories. There's young love, the aspirations of making it big, the desperations of falling from fame, and lastly, but most importantly, the music. The film never strays; it always comes back to the music and most definitely delivers. Though the story is entertaining, we seriously stress, the singing in the film is amazing. There is a catalogue of classics that will keep your little pinkie-index-sign pivoting back and forth (but try to remember you are in a theater, high horns must remain below the seat level).
Needless to say, I was confounded. Void of superheroes, aliens, mass explosions or high-speed car chases, "Rock of Ages" turned out to be a complete unexpected summer blockbuster hit. Of course, I give it five out five stars! The film opens Friday June 15 and I highly recommend you see it because you'll have "Nothin But a Good Time." (Seriously, I need me some Rock of Ages, like I need more cowbell!! And the soundtrack is crazy-fun!)