Reel Shorts | Rock of Ages

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Two kindred spirits find love amidst the manic background of sex, drugs and rock and roll in the entertaining musical, Rock of Ages.

The idea of a musical featuring an all-star cast performing familiar songs can either be an utter disaster or an exhilarating rush. The story set 1987 focuses on Sherrie (Julianne Hough) leaving her Oklahoma home looking for stardom in the big-city of L.A. In no time flat she lands a job at the epicenter of the rock universe, the Bourbon Room where she meets and falls in love with another aspiring singer, Drew (Diego Boneta) and the two are headed into the wild blue wonder of romance. Overseeing the frenetic action is Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and assistant, Lonnie (Russell Brand) who is focused on paying the club’s back taxes. Luckily, salvation is on the way courtesy of the last appearance of the group, Arsenal and their enigmatic frontman, Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise).

Unfortunately, not everyone in the City of Angels wants to rock and the right-wing opposition led by the Mayor’s wife, Patricia Whitman (Catherine Zeta-Jones) wants to stop Jaxx from “raping the ears of the kids!” Exuding intense sexual energy, women faint at the feet of the narcissistic rock god who rolls with his trusty animal companion, Hey Man and seems to be in a perpetual purple haze. But Jaxx is knocked on his heels when a probing rock reporter, Constance (Malin Ackerman) exposes Jaxx’s insecurities in a scathing interview.

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s opening act cancels and Drew gets his big shot but Sherrie is warned that “once the spotlight focuses on him, she will fade away.” Soon the prophesy comes to fruition the two lovers go their separate ways with Sherrie finding a new gig as a stripper at the Venus Club run by Justice (Mary J. Blige).

Directed by Adam Shankman, this rock/jukebox musical is not too complicated but it is the songs and the performances that make it work. Led by an inspired performance from Cruise, he manages to create another memorable performance and is the film’s anchor. Also radiating great chemistry is Hough and Boneta as well as Baldwin and Brand. Paul Giamatti gives his usual solid turn as an oily manager while Blige convincingly belts out various tunes probably setting the stage for a future rock album. The film never soars to the heights of Chicago or Dreamgirls but for fans who want to rock, this film is for you!

Grade: B

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