I don't want to brag or anything, but my high school and college years were spent in a time period known as" the 80's", where AquaNet and mullets were plentiful, and the music by bands like Journey, Guns N Roses, and my personal favorite, Def Leppard, was not just great, it was EPIC. Imagine then how my little "hair metal" loving heart skipped a beat when I saw the previews for 'Rock of Ages'!
THE GOOD: Based on a Broadway musical and set on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, 'Rock of Ages' is the story of two young rock star wannabees: Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and Drew (Diego Boneta), who fall in and out of love at the infamous and nearly broke Bourbon Room, the place that gave Rock God Stacee Jaxx (played by Tom Cruise) his start. As manager of the Bourbon Room, Dennis (Alec Baldwin) hopes that an appearance by Stacee Jaxx will turn things around. And to add a villain to the mix, we have the Mayor's uptight and pious wife, Patricia (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) who vows to clean up the Strip and destroy any and all fun that happens there.
The plot isn't deep and challenging by any means, and it's important to grasp the fact that because this is a musical, the entire production has a very cheesy feeling to it that you have to be completely willing to embrace. Also, it probably helps enormously to be a huge fan of 80's flixtor.com music---otherwise there's a good chance you will hate it from the get go. For me personally, I was prepared to enjoy both the corniness AND the music, and for the first 25 minutes or so, I DID. I was absolutely having a blast, despite being subjected to seeing Tom Cruise's bare backside in an opening scene-which I realize for some would be the highlight of their Saturday night.
But then things went downhill at an astonishing rate.
THE BAD: So, here's where the movie lost its appeal for me: given that the subject matter dealt specifically with the life of a heavy metal rock god, it's a no-brainer that "groupie activity" will be alluded to, and possibly even portrayed to some degree----but when you walk out of a PG-13 movie feeling like there isn't enough hand sanitizer on this planet to rinse out your eyes, perhaps it's time for Hollywood to reevaluate its rating system. I won't relive the horror of it by sharing details with you, but suffice it to say that I am a 43 year old woman with 20 years of marriage to my name, and there were moments in this film that still made me want to crawl under my seat. Innuendo is one thing, but detailed activity went above and beyond what I was prepared for, given the rating. Yes, rock stars have A LOT of----uh, FANS. We get it. We now understand SPECIFICALLY how they spend their free time. Thank you, and ewwww.
How this movie ended up with a "less than R" rating completely boggles the mind. Clearly the MPAA needs to reconsider its criteria. And if I haven't been clear, this movie is NOT okay for kids---and by kids, I mean anyone you wouldn't want to explain the dangers of social diseases to.
THE UGLY: If you've read this far, and have thought to yourself "This woman is too uptight/that kind of stuff doesn't bother me/I'd really like to see Tom Cruise's rear end", I won't judge you. But be aware that in addition to the previously mentioned "ick factor" there is also another matter to cope with----and that would be Russell Brand's wig.
At least, I THINK it was a wig.
Oh Please. Let it be a wig.
If the film had just been nothing but a cheesy 80's rock musical, it would have been a fun and nostalgic trip back in time to my youth. I will admit to feeling almost euphoric when there was a musical number, with some obvious exceptions. And once again, I am forced to praise Tom Cruise for another fabulous performance---no matter how much I might want to beat my head against a wall when I hear his name, there's no denying that he is talent personified. If anyone can play a crazy egomaniac, Tom is your man, and he is in fact, a great vocalist as well.
In the end however, if the 80's are calling you, just download some Def Leppard on your ipod and stay in for the evening. You'll still get the great music, and you won't need any hand sanitizer.