By NANCY BELLE
While some movies are just bad, others are so bad that they are good. “Rock of Ages” is the latest that fits in this category, thanks, in part, to the always strange Tom Cruise.
Set in the 1980’s, the era of big hair, power ballads and heavy metal, “Rock of Ages” tells the story of Drew and Sherrie. Drew, played by Diego Boneta, is a wannabe rock star who works at The Bourbon Room, a club in L.A., and Sherrie, played by Julianne Hough, is the new girl in town, fresh off the bus from Kansas with dreams of becoming a star. Sherrie meets Drew and is hired to work at The Bourbon Room.
From there, the plot plays out as it does in many movies: boy meets girl, they fall for each other, something happens which tears them apart and, well, you know the rest.
Unlike most movies, their story is told partially in song, using some of the biggest metal and rock hits of the decades with some of the biggest names in entertainment singing them.
The movie is not the same as the Broadway musical upon which it is based.
Still playing on Broadway at the Helen Hayes Theatre, it is known as much for its seat side drink service as it is for its audience participation, both of which are missing from the movie, obviously.
The story has also been toned down a bit, much like the 2007 movie version of “Hairspray,” which was coincidentally also directed and choreographed by Adam Shankman.
Causing some of the tension in Sherrie and Drew’s relationship is Stacie Jaxx, the lead singer of the band, Arsenal, played by a shirtless and tattooed Tom Cruise. The band is supposed to play its final gig at the club.
Jaxx is somewhat of a nightmare to deal with, almost constantly drunk and wanting endless amounts of sex. Cruise somehow plays the character well, even if it is a little bit creepy how much he looks like his real-life daughter, Suri, with his long hair in the film.
With a soundtrack of 80’s hits, ranging from Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City” to Journey’s ubiquitous “Don’t Stop Believing,” the music works with, rather than against, the story, helping to advance the plot more often than not.
The movie has a few standout performances, such as Alec Baldwin as Dennis Dupree, the owner of The Bourbon Room, and Russell Brand as Lonny Barnett, Dennis’ assistant.
Baldwin and Brand are not only funny, but they can sing. Their duet of REO Speedwagon’s 1985 hit, “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” is hilarious and may be the best part of the entire 123-minute movie.
Other big names in the film include Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige, Malin Akerman, Will Forte and Bryan Cranston, some of whom get to show off their singing talent, or lack thereof.
All in all, the movie will further solidify the fact that Tom Cruise is the strangest thing in Hollywood.