“Rock of Ages”: Just The Right Mix of Rock and Schlock For Me


The other night I convinced Angela to watch Rock of Ages with me. I should maybe rephrase that. The other night I tricked Angela into watching Rock of Ages with me. There, that sounds more accurate.

See, Angela used to claim that she didn’t like musicals, but with Jesus Christ Superstar, Mamma Mia!, and now this one, I think she may finally have put that claim to bed. We both surprisingly liked this movie.

Yes, it’s cheesy, but it’s supposed to be. It’s also embarrassing in the same way that many musicals are, since no one would ever find themselves singing in any of the situations the characters sing in. But who cares, it’s supposed to be a chance to have some fun mixing together some good songs, and it does that very well. Whereas as movie like Mamma Mia! is totally dependent on its audience liking ABBA, there’s a bit more of a musical variety to Rock of Ages. Of course, there’s a lot of 80s hair metal and power ballads, but there is also some softer stuff like Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” or REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling.”

I liked every single song on the soundtrack, I think, which is pretty amazing. In fact, I think I’m smack-dab in the exact sweet spot for the movie’s target audience; I really love 80s rock and hair metal, but I also dig other acts like Pat Benetar and Foreigner, and to top it off I like watching movies based on musicals. The cherry on the top is that I don’t hate movies with Tom Cruise, which apparently a lot of people do these days. That may also illustrate the problem with this movie, at least in terms of its generally poor reception: I don’t seem to be part of a very big target demographic.

Still, we were both surprised that the songs were sung so well, especially by the likes of Tom Cruise, who just didn’t seem like he’d be good. But he was. His character, Stacee Jaxx, was especially interesting. It’s not that Cruise was particularly amazing, but I liked to watch the things his character did and try to guess what rockers his pastiche character was based on. It seems to have a healthy helping of Nikki Sixx (for the name and spelling), Axl Rose (for the tardiness and unreliability), and Brett Michaels (for the hat), along with quite a few others. His singing was also OK, as mentioned, but the lead guy, Diego Boneta, was a bit better. But Tom Cruise can probably be content that he’s a better actor.

The only singer we didn’t like was Julianne Hough, who played Sherrie Christian, the main female lead. Her voice was too breathy for me and Angela described her singing as sounding like she had “a clothespin on her nose.” Which is a good description for it. But so many of the songs are duets and mash-ups, you don’t really have time to get annoyed by it before they change singers or songs. As an aside, the mash-ups were pretty average. A few worked well, but others, like “Jukebox Hero” getting mashed up with “I Love Rock N’ Roll,” sounded a bit forced. But it was written in the age of Glee, so I guess you just have to shove in some mash-ups. Here’s one that works, and also illustrates Julianne Hough’s breathiness as compared to Mary J. Blige’s awesomeness:

The biggest problem/complaint/outrage I have with this movie is that it completely blew the chance the have someone belt out Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherrie.” They even named the main character Sherrie, for crying out loud, and there were so many times where I kept expecting it to be the next song to pop up. But it never happened. I was so perplexed by this that I looked it up, and it appears that in the stage version they did sing “Oh Sherrie,” but apparently it was left out of the film version for some reason. How can you do that?? “Oh Schmucks” is more like it! So, to make up for the lack of the song in the movie, here’s the video:

Anyhow, I know that I’m probably in the minority for really liking this movie, but I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has seen it or has comments about it.

Have a good one!

Leave a Reply