Fellow retired Real Hot Bitch and younger sister, Charlotte Meyer reviews Rock of Ages.
Nothing but a good time
Last Sunday, on my way to brunch, I bought a pair of electric blue, snakeskin print, skinny jeans. They are amazing. They make me feel like a rock star.
I took them home, hung them in my wardrobe and spent the rest of the week wishing I had a rock’n'roll lifestyle to match my new pants.
Well, for a couple of hours last night, I did.
Rock Of Ages snuk up on me. I hadn’t heard much of the hype and was only vaguely aware of its existance as a Broadway show. But, given that all I was really after was an excuse to bust out my new pants, have a couple of drinks and hang out with a posse of my closest, rock-loving friends; that didn’t matter.
The plot is fairly standard – small town girl with a good voice takes her high hair (and even higher hopes) to L.A. She meets a boy and lands a job as a barmaid in an iconic rock venue. All is going well until a major rock star arrives on the scene, causing misunderstandings and heartbreak. Happily, all of this gets resolved in time for the grand finale.
Now, before you get stroppy with me, I haven’t spoilt it for you. This is one movie where it doesn’t matter that we all know exactly what is going to happen. As all true rock stars (and anyone who has ever read Def Leppard lyrics) know, in the world of rock’n'roll, it is not what you sing, but how you sing it that counts.
All of the expected elements of this film – singing, dance routines, costumes and witty one liners – are done well. The two young leads do a good job; we like them, they are pretty and they can sing. But what sets Rock of Ages apart from similar films is its fantastic cast and their willingness to take the piss out of themselves. The supporting characters really deliver the magic.
Catherine Zeta-Jones is brilliant as a Tipper Gore-inspired, right-wing moral crusader. She is uptight, conversative and immaculately coiffed. Although I’m not sure that Tipper would approve of her busting out high kicks and pelvic thrusts in church, I certainly did.
Alec Baldwin was born to play a washed-up, paunchy club owner with a heart of gold (the kind you get on a chain from Michael Hill, not 24 carat) and a secret love. He provides us with one of the best moments in the film - a spectacular rendition of REO Speedwagon’s ‘Can’t fight this feeling’. It had me clapping and cheering in my seat.
Paul Giametti uses his receeding chin and hairline to their full effect in his role as the quintessential sleazy rock manager. I’m loving him at the moment. (If you haven’t already, check out last year’s Win Win, he’s great in that too).
When Mary J. Blige emerged from the shadows on Sunset Strip, she brought a whole new level of cool to the film. Not to mention a truly phenomenal glitzy wardrobe.
And finally, Tom Cruise. Now it’s important for me to state here, on the public record, that I am allergic to Tom Cruise. It’s a medical issue. The man brings me out in hives and does unspeakable things to my digestion. I went into the film prepared – I had premedicated with cocktails to take the edge off, and was sitting in an aisle seat, just in case I needed to make a speedy escape.
I needn’t have worried.
From his first appearance on the screen, he had me hooked. As layers of groupies were peeled away to reveal him in all his leather-clad glory, he stopped being Tom Cruise – creepy midget Scientologist, and became Stacee Jax – rock god. The man totally owned those leather chaps and bejewelled codpiece (and believe me, that’s not something I ever thought I’d be able to say about Tom Cruise). He had groupies, he had swagger, he had a monkey sidekick. He was awesome.
The soundtrack of Rock of Ages is pure gold. The best part of the viewing experience was trying to guess what song would come next. As one of my companions remarked, “It’s like listening to Classic Hits, but without the crap”. A soundtrack highlight was a duel between the a gang of rockers and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ army of uptight housewives. As a visual spectacle it was entertaining, but the tongue-in-cheek song choice had me crying with laughter. Quick recap of rock history – In the 1980s, Tipper Gore campaigned vigorously against the evils of rock music. Her crusade earned her a lot of enemies, including Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, who infamously took his opposition to the Senate hearing on music censorship. So to have Zeta-Jones singing Twisted Sister’s biggest hit ‘We’re not gonna take it’ was a moment of genius.
Every musical has one big song and Rock of Ages’ big tune might seem like an unusual choice. It’s a great song, but it has had a lot of wrong done to it in recent times. I was reminded of what Bono said about his band’s cover of ‘Helter Skelter’: “This is a song Charles Manson stole from the Beatles, we’re stealing it back”. Rock of Ages certainly kicks aside the adolescent tweeness of Glee and restores rock credibility to Journey’s ‘Don’t stop believing’. I’m just a bit sad that it was the only Steve Perry song in the film. I kept waiting for ‘Oh Sherrie’, but it never came.
However, that is the only nit I have to pick with this film. Overall, my friends and I loved it. We sung, we clapped, we did dance moves in our seats to ‘Pour some sugar on me’, one of us was even moved to tears by the happy ending. What more could you want from a film? It was just like living in paradise, and when the house lights came up, I didn’t want to go home.
This film has inspired me so much that I’m going to work tomorrow dressed as an extra from Rock of Ages – all I need is a fringed leather jacket to go with my snakeskin pants. My colleagues won’t know what’s hit them.