It’s not often that I just don’t like a film. There’s usually something I can like about it, a character, a performance, a scene, a minute!
But with Rock of Ages I’m afraid I’m struggling to find anything. This is a cheesy movie, the songs start early and come thick and fast.
The best way to think of this movie is like a 90’s rap album; lots of songs with ‘interludes’ of talking and stuff in between.
Another way to think of the movie is as an extended version of Glee. I don’t think it could be any more obvious that the movie takes its cues from Glee. Even some of the songs get ‘mixed’ together like a bad Jive Bunny album.
Speaking of the music, there’s some great songs here, but they are sung by the actors and actresses and, whilst they aren’t bad singers, this is rock music and singing rock music in this current Glee, The Voice, X Factor style – all high pitched and soft – just doesn’t work. It’s tantamount to butchering the song by singing out of key.
Tom Cruise launches into Wanted Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi at one point and it’s not that he can’t sing, turns out he can, he just can’t sing rock. This is further emphasised when Mary J Blige enters the movie and you can instantly hear the difference as she belts out what small, underused, scenes she gets.
The film was co-written by Justin Theroux and produced by Toby Maguire, yes that Toby Maguire, Spiderman. The two main stars, Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough, are just terrible, particularly Boneta. He doesn’t look the part, he doesn’t sound the part, I’m not clear if he is an actor turned singer or the other way round because he’s not good at either.
Hough doesn’t really get to show off that much, other than flesh, so it’s perhaps a tad unfair to say if she’s any good. Her scenes don’t require much acting and her singing is mainly backing vocals or drowned out.
Cruise is just Cruise in the movie, he looks like Axl Rose with a bit of Steven Tyler thrown in for good measure though he’s supposedly based on Bret Michaels of Poison. It’s not a good performance in my opinion, he’s trying to do what Depp did in the Pirates movies but he falls way short of that.
Cruise also takes part in what is, quite possibly, the worst ‘sex scene’ ever to feature in a modern movie. Set to music it tries to be funny and fails and is left floundering as neither Cruise nor co-scene star Malin Akerman (better known as Silk Spectre from Watchmen) know what their supposed to be doing.
But one of the worst performances throughout the entire thing comes from Russell Brand. This is the Englishman Russell Brand. The man who supports West Ham football club and went out with Katy Perry. So why? Why oh why oh why is he “putting on” some god awful English accent? He sounds like an Australian who’s used to doing American accents in movies trying to do a British accent. It’s just terrible and you can’t do anything other than snigger whenever he appears on film…in a bad way.
The final problem with the film is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is meant to be funny? Ironic? Cheesy? It’s not clear which, if any, of these things the film is trying to be but it’s not any and isn’t anything else other than bad.