The film adaptation of the Broadway smash “Rock of Ages” hits theaters June 15, and here is the only thing you need to know, it’s rad. Set in 1987, the film tells the intertwining stories of wannabe rockers, a struggling bar owner, a rock god, his scumbag agent, a crusading mother and a Rolling Stone reporter, all drawn to legendary rock bar on the verge of collapse, The Bourbon Room.
The scribe of the original musical, Chris D’Arienzo, teamed up with Justin Theroux and Allen Loeb to create the screenplay. Director Adam Shankman and his star-studded cast, which includes Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Malin Akerman, Julianne Hough and newcomer Diego Boneta, bring the script to life with all of the indulgent decadence of the 1980s.
The film demonstrates its self-aware sense of humor from the opening scene in which, Sheriee Christian (Julianne Hough) begins singing Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian” on a bus trip from Oklahoma to L.A. and is surprised to find her fellow passengers joining in with gusto. Later references to pop cutlure icons, style, technology and trends of the age keep the nostagia flowing.
Perhaps no homage is quite so enjoybale as the brief cameos from the stars of the day. Look for Sebastian Bach and a host of others to join Lonny as he fights Patricia Whitmore’s (Catherine Zeta-Jones) “clean up the strip initiative.”
While the entire cast turns in solid performaces, only Tom Cruise delivers a turn that can be termed “must-see.” He is the over-the-top eccentric frontman people cannot help but worship despite his issues. While he channels Axl Rose fantastically, Cruise manages not to turn Stacee into a caricature. Instead Jaxx is an angsty, romantic artist spewing one-liners that could be madness or brillance. He comes to realize that he’s lost everything that made him great when journalist Constance Sack (Malin Akerman) comes into his life and turns his perspective upside down.
The pair’s performance of “I Wanna Know What Love Is” is one of the most enjoyable sequences in the whole picture. That said, all of the songs are entertaining and engrossing, but more importantly they aren’t jarring. Shankman establishes the world so well that the seem almost natural. Well, as natural as anything in the era of Aqua Net can be.
There are few things more fun than a movie that encourages the audience to belt out the anthems and ballads of the past. So tease your hair, get ready to rock and revel in the excesses of “Rock of Ages”.