Rock of Ages Movie Adaptation Lands with a Thud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock of Ages movie review. Fans of the musical, Rock of Ages, are familiar with the tale of star-crossed lovers Drew Bolie (AKA Wolfgang Van Colt) and Sherri Christian who seek musical fame in Hollywood only to have their dreams hijacked along the way. Drew, whose dream is to be a rock god, instead finds himself in a foolish boy band while the only spotlight Sherrie finds is at the local strip club.

Unfortunately, Rock of Ages the musical was similiarly corrupted when it went to Hollywood to become a feature presentation.  The formula for a jukebox musical is pretty straightforward, jam some well known tunes into an entertaining story and let the music do the heavy lifting. Done well (Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You) and you have  an fun night at the theater, done poorly (Movin Out) and end up with a crap-tastic disaster.

The movie version of Rock of Ages cuts down on the music (!) and foregoes Lonny as the musical narrator (one the best the parts) for weak dialog exposition.

The resulting mess is boring slog of bad dialog. Much of the humor and cultural references from have also been completely excised. The changes turn a tongue-in-cheek romp into a bad a parody of Spinal Tap. Characters have been completely re-written and expanded in an attempt to get as much mileage as possible from the all-star (?) cast.

And here is probably where things went wrong in production. The Stacey Jaxx character while a memorable supporting character in the stage production is played by Tom Cruise, and here he’s the main emphasis of the show. You can imagine his agent sitting down with the producers…OK, Mr. Cruise is interested but we’re going to need some re-writes. First, the character won’t have a weird fetish for baby llamas…and rather than just being a stoned-out rocker he needs to be a on spiritual journey, and uh, the character needs a happy ending…

In a case of bizarre casting, Alec Baldwin takes the role of Dennis Dupree manager of the Bourbon Club. Baldwin does obnoxious well but seems completely miscast here.

The movie catches a little wind near the end but its not nearly enough to save it.

The stage musical worked by relying on music, humor, and ended with a nice moral-

Sherrie and Drew move to Glendale and start a family. Lonny notes that on The Strip, sometimes the dreams with which you enter are not always the dreams with which you leave, but they still rock.

The movie ditches this ending for feel good big stadium-sized finale. Big stars, big ending, big budget. It’s not enough for Sherrie and Drew to move to settle down in suburbia, they need to be big rock stars too! Stacey Jaxx needs to find love and a family! Dennis doesn’t die!

Amazingly this movie failed on two fronts. It’s hard to imagine that fans of the musical will enjoy the changes made to the story and equally hard to imagine that anyone would want to see the musical after this mess of a movie.

Rock of Ages on Broadway

Recently in New York, my wife and I saw Rock of Ages on Broadway.  Rock of Ages continues the trend of musicals based on popular music.  For those who haven’t seen a show like this, popular sons are fused together and performed to move the plot of the show along.

Rock of Ages is based on rock anthems of the 1980s and follows in the footsteps of Mamma Mia! (Abba), We Will Rock You (Queen), and Movin Out (Billy Joel).

The show follows the journey of a young couple as they try to make it big in the Los Angeles music scene.  These shows work best if you’re familiar the music, much of the of entertainment value comes from hearing the music performed live and hearing the songs wedged into the plot.  Songs from Journey, Styx, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, Whitesnake, Steve Perry, and Twisted Sister among others are featured.

Overall, Rock of Ages is a hoot.  The musical performances rock, and the it’s definitely a show that you can go and have a good time.  It’s the rare broadway show that doesn’t take itself too seriously as the cast interacts with the audience and mocks the conventions of musical theater.  You know you’re in for a different kind of show when cocktail waitresses are selling cans of beer to the audience as they enter the theater.

I highly recommend this show especially if you were a fan of this musical era.

Rock of Ages Wikipedia Entry

Rock Of Ages Official Site