So I went and saw this Rock of Ages film over he weekend (it felt as though it took up far too much of the weekend).
Call me curious, I know (now) that it was an idiotic thing to do. And, of course on some level (on most levels) I knew that at the time. But I am drawn to terrible music-related movies. I'll go to the good ones too. But for every Scott Walker documentary there's Glitter - staring Mariah Carey as a thinly veiled version of herself. For every Coal Miner's Daughter there's a Ray or, worse still, a Walk the Line. And I will see them all!
And now I've seen Rock of Ages.
And it might be shooting fish in a barrel - and you can accuse me of that, sure - but I think it's the worst music-related film I've ever seen. I say this as someone who paid money to watch The Rocker.
Some of the biopics stumble and overreach, or more often they're just too safe - don't speak ill of the dead, this is particularly difficult to do when the family members - Professional Family Members of course - are signing off on the script.
Rock of Ages is supposed to be big, dumb fun and really they should have covered this Meat Loaf song because they didn't quite get there on all three counts.
There's more character development and a tighter script (and probably better acting from most of the leads) in a single episode of The GC.
But - spoiler alert - let me summarise Rock of Ages (and yes, yes, I know it's based on some camp/trashy stage musical).
That is the plot.
And it's so overly pleased with itself for being a musical. Sherrie (Julianne Hough) is on a bus heading from Haystackville/Oklahoma to be a star. She goes to Hollywood. All she has are her records in a suitcase. She starts singing - and the whole bus joins in.
I didn't find this fun. It just made me hate drama students.
So Sherrie works in a bar after meeting Drew (Diego Boneta). He hooks her up as a waitress at The Bourbon Room but she wants to be a singer. Drew sees himself as a rocker too. They are so embarrassingly vanilla, so shiny-teeth/new-car-smell as to never seem like rockers from the era the film is not only in love with - but set in (oh yeah, the "action" in this film takes place in 1987).
Probably you've heard about Tom Cruise being in the film - and maybe that is either the reason to see it, from a love/hate perspective, or possibly it is what is putting you off. Don't let that be what puts you off. Cruise is a method actor so he prepared for this film by watching Val Kilmer pretend to be Jim Morrison over and over. He has perfected the slumped shoulders/walk like a sock puppet when the arm's been removed, low-slung bottle of whiskey trailing behind look.
This doesn't mean that Tom Cruise is any good. But he is not the worst thing about this film. This film is the worst thing about this film.
Tom Cruise is not as bad as Russell Brand, so profoundly unfunny that he should really be a panelist on Seven Days between Comedy Festival appearances. Brand is not good on the big screen. But at least he's consistent. He's always terrible no matter what the film is. Here you wonder if he even bothered to read the script. Then you wonder if the writers actually bothered to pen a script.
Alec Baldwin reminds everyone - and hopefully himself - that his finest roles are when he wears a suit. No suit means no good.
Catherine Zeta-Jones is easily the best thing about this movie. But it's a dubious honour.
One of so many absurdities in the film's idea of a plot sees Zeta-Jones' character Patricia Whitmore vehemently opposed to rock'n'roll; staunchly advocating from a church point of view against the filth that goes on in The Bourbon Room. She wants to shut it down. So she rallies her troops and - does what? - sings rock'n'roll songs.
Except, are these really rock'n'roll songs? I mean really? You're sitting watching it and realising that the version of I Love Rock'n'Roll is about as convincing as when Britney Spears sang it for her movie, Crossroads, because if Mariah Carey could have a movie that pretended to almost be about her life then Britney could too. And then you realise that you can make this comparison because of course you paid money to see that movie Crossroads.
Why anyone feels a nostalgic itch from this music is one thing. If they think that hearing competent-at-best but sackless and squeaky-clean versions by nobody stars of today or from one-step-closer-to-washed-up stars from yesterday is going to be the stick to scratch that plaster-cast itch - well then that's just sad.
We never needed More Than Words in the first place, so a young shiny, happy person singing it without tongue-in-cheek (doesn't matter whose cheek) sure doesn't make it easier to take.
And that's the thing that's most insulting about this film. It almost thinks it's having a laugh - but the film is a laughing stock, a handful of movie reels that should have been destroyed before they were released. So there's no real joke being played here - apart from on the paying punter; Catherine Zeta-Jones definitely hams it up the best, but there's such a look of demented near-rage on her face it's as if she's cutting her scenes after realising she agreed to work for scale before reading the script.
Rock of Ages is not worth getting wound up about - but it insulting because it doesn't rock. It simply goes for ages.
Rock of Love is not only a better tribute to the era than Rock of Ages; it's also more respectful to women.
Reviews that tell you this film is just big dumb fun are written by big dummies that aren't fun.
I'd love to hear from people who have seen the film and enjoyed it. Actually, that's not even close to true. I don't want to hear from anyone that enjoyed this film. But I'm safe because you wouldn't have read this far if you got anything close to enjoyment out of Rock of Ages. You'd still be finishing off that towering literary achievement, That's Not My Truck.
But come on, someone make me feel good for blowing some money on Rock of Ages. Tell me that you blew a load of cash on this turkey too. And you hated it. Right?
Or would you not even (ever) go there?
Also anyone else out there struck down by this awful affliction where even the tackiest music-related film seems like something worth seeing?
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