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Rock of Ages (12A) Director: Adam Shankman Staring: Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin Rating: ★★

Rolling but not rocking

By Gerald McCusker

What’s the story?

It’s 1987 – noisy, flamboyant, big-haired stadium rock is at its zenith and small-town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough) is desperate for a slice of the action. Leaving Oklahoma for the bright lights of LA, her dream is to make it big in the music business.

Arriving in Hollywood, Sherrie bumps into Drew (Diego Boneta), a cute boy with a similar dream of rock stardom and the two instantly hit it off. Not one to see Sherrie down and out with nowhere to go, Drew gets her a job as a waitress in the Bourbon Room, a grimy, filthy shrine to rock music and the venue that has launched the career of every major artist, including legendary rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise).

Managed by the bedraggled Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and his loopy right-hand man Lonny (Russell Brand), the Bourbon Room is due to host Stacee’s farewell concert and every rock fan in America is desperate for a ticket to the show.

But the club runs into a spot of bother when God-fearing campaigner Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones) launches an offensive to clean up the streets of Sunset Strip and close the Bourbon Room for good

Any good?

Stage to screen adaptations of popular Broadway and West End musicals has been hugely popular in recent years and Rock of Ages is the latest in a long line of hit musicals to get a big screen makeover.

But, while the defiantly camp and fun Mamma Mia! hit all the right notes and the bedazzling, colourful and jovial Hairspray charmed audiences, Rock of Ages fails to ignite the rousing, passionate roar of rock and roll in this disappointing adaptation.

The story is simple – simple girl goes heads to the bright lights to fulfil her dream of becoming a star and, overcoming obstacles along the way with hard work, passion and dedication, she sees her dreams become a reality.

Yep, if you’ve seen Burlesque, Footloose and Fame, you can spot the recurring theme a mile off


While Rock of Ages delivers big power ballads with flair and verve, it does so to the detriment of the under-developed plot and characters. What we’re left with is a two-hour cascade of camp rock ballads limply linked together by a wishy-washy storyline.

Director Adam Shankman also brought the brilliance of Hairspray to the big screen, but his adaptation of Rock of Ages leaves a lot to be desired. The characters, although fun and colourful in their own right, fail to make an impression. Tom Cruise struggles to nail the duality of the wasted but poetic rock star, Alec Baldwin is somewhat drab as the Bourbon Room’s devil-may-care owner and Russell Brand’s absolutely appalling ‘Brummie’ accent, no doubt inspired by rocker Ozzy Osbourne, begins to grate on the nerves after the first five syllables.

Okay, so musicals are supposed to be all-singing, all-dancing, camp and frivolous affairs, but, with no show-stopping tunes, foot-tapping dance routines or even a melodramatic swansong, Rock of Ages falls into the mediocre category, when it should be magnificent.

Final word

If you’re a fan of the stage show and can see past the lukewarm story and blasé performances, then Rock of Ages may well give you enough theatrical pizazz to forgive its impurities. If you’re not a fan of this genre, Rock of Ages is certainly not going to convince you otherwise.

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