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Critics Report: Rock of Ages far from rocking

Tom Cruise has ventured into a new space by playing rockstar Stacee Jaxx. He has shocked his daughter but has he rocked the reviewers with his performance? Here's a look at what critics have to say:

hollywood Updated: Jun 15, 2012 16:08 IST
Hindustan TImes,Rock of Ages,Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise has ventured into a new space by playing rockstar Stacee Jaxx. He has shocked his daughter but has he rocked the reviewers with his performance?

Film: Rock of Ages
Cast: Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bryan Cranston, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta
Director: Adam Shankman
Plot Synopsis: A small town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and city boy Drew (Diego Boneta), who meet on the Sunset Strip while pursuing their Hollywood dreams. The film stars Tom Cruise as the rockstar Stacee Jaxx, inpired from the brodway character of the same name.

Here's a look at what critics have to say:

Charles Spencer, The Telegraph
Rating: 1/5
This is as unpleasant a pile of theatrical poo as it has ever been my misfortune to tread in. Yet another in the apparently endless parade of mindless jukebox musicals, Rock of Ages is set in the Los Angeles of the Eighties. Its aim is to celebrate the glam metal bands of the period, a genre sometimes known as “poodle rock” because of the absurd blow-dried hairstyles of many of its leading practitioners.

The jokes are unfunny, the story both predictable and appallingly written, while the acting – with the club’s proprietor played by low-grade TV presenter Justin Lee Collins with X-Factor veteran Shayne Ward as the rock god – is dismal.

I usually have a soft spot for cheesy sleaze, but there is something repellent about this show’s leering manner, while the subplot involving a crude caricatured German property developer, who wants to demolish Sunset Strip, and his outrageously camp son proves as infantile as it is unfunny.

I suppose the undistinguished rock numbers are ground out efficiently enough, but otherwise the show strikes me as having no redeeming merits whatever.
Verdict: Tired, sordid, inane: just when you thought jukebox musicals could sink no lower Rock of Ages at the Shaftesbury Theatre manages it.

Rock of AgesEli Glasner, The Buzz, CBC News

Rating: 2/5

As the American Idolization of pop culture continues, Rock of Ages hoovers up a decade (or so) of hair metal into a karaoke sing-a-long. It's a movie that will make '80s rock fans long for the authenticity of Twisted Sister.

The problem with too many movie musicals is they come with excuse built into the experience. Sure the acting/plot/set-design/characters are risibly terrible, but (say it with me) "It's a musical."

And if you're worried now, let me tell you Cruise is just about the best thing about Rock of Ages. It's an over-the-top role, but, as always, Cruise holds nothing back, self-actualizing himself into veritable rock phenom. It's ridiculous enough to enjoy, like a slimmed-down version of his Les Grossman from Tropic Thunder.

Verdict: Still none of that makes up for the fact that Rock of Ages takes one of the most creative periods in recent music history and substitutes style for soul.

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Rating: 1/5
Like some illegal experiment in genetic modification, this film grafts the rock anthem to the spirit of the Broadway showtune, to create a mascara'd eunuch, simpering, misshapen, and nowhere near sexy enough to be gay. It is the movie musical version of the jukebox stage show. Doubtless, like The Producers, it will be adapted back into the theatre, some time in 2017, at which time it will be even more bland and tiring. It's a sentimentalised and weirdly humourless movie — targeted at the middle-aged at heart — in which the rock scene is celebrated as a world where the descending model of Stonehenge is always the right size.
Verdict: This is the movie musical version of the jukebox stage show.

Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“Rock of Ages,” a jukebox musical turned junky big-screen attraction about making it in the music biz back when it still existed, is just entertaining enough to keep you from dark thoughts about the state of Hollywood. The movie is too insipid for such hand wringing, in any event, and the attention-grabbing turns by Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and especially Tom Cruise as a rock-star crazy help enliven its overlong two hours. All singing, some dancing, the movie brings to mind “Glee,” but its truer, superior progenitor is that 1933 Cinderella story, “42nd Street,” the one in which the producer tells the chorine, “You’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!”

To put it another way, there’s way too much Journey on the soundtrack, and Foreigner. There’s also an REO Speedwagon ditty, a few from Twisted Sister, Def Leppard and Poison, and at least two hits that were released after 1987 ("More Than Words" and "I Remember You"). All the songs are sung, mostly without shame or distinction, by the actors themselves, who slide into the warbling as if into a conversation. A grizzled, bewigged Mr. Baldwin enunciates through his songs, in the Rex Harrison mold, to play a rock survivor, Dennis Dupree, who runs the Bourbon with his sidekick, Lonny (Mr. Brand). They make their stale buddy routine and romance amusing and, as with the rest of the adults, make the movie bearable. A whispering and writhing Mr. Cruise makes it watchable.

Rock of AgesChristy Lemire, The Associated Press

Rating: 2.5/4

Just when you thought you'd never hear Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar on Me again outside of a strip club comes Rock of Ages, a shiny, splashy homage to the decadence of 1980s rock 'n' roll.

Your enjoyment of this musical, based on the Tony-nominated Broadway show, will depend greatly on your enjoyment of this music because director Adam Shankman (Hairspray) crams in a lot of it. Still, if this era was a formative time in your life and you're feeling a yearning for kitschy nostalgia, Rock of Ages provides a sufficiently fun little escape.

Sure, the characters are all broad types, from fresh-faced newcomers with dreams of stardom to grizzled, cynical veterans who've seen it all. And sure, their antics are glossed-up and watered-down compared to reality to ensure a PG-13 accessibility. But the movie has enough energy to keep you suitably entertained, as well as a knowing, cheeky streak that prevents it from turning too reverent and self-serious.

With a bandana tied around his long, wild tresses, aviator sunglasses and fur coat over his bare, tatted chest, Cruise is clearly aping Guns N' Roses lead singer Axl Rose. But the swagger is reminiscent of his supporting role in Magnolia, still his best work yet. Cruise gives a performance that's intensely weird and weirdly intense; it's sexy and funny and a great fit for his own status as a rock star among actors.

Unfortunately, this film version (with a script from Chris D'Arienzo, who created the stage show, Allan Loeb and Justin Theroux) also feels the need to cram in a subplot about the self-righteous, uptight wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) of L.A.'s mayor (Bryan Cranston), who's on a crusade to clean up the Strip. Even though the Chicago star's intentionally rigid performance of Pat Benatar's Hit Me With Your Best Shot is good for a laugh, the whole story thread seems like a feeble attempt at injecting tension.

Far more effective is the presence of Mary J. Blige as the strip club owner with a heart of gold who takes Sherrie under her wing when life in Los Angeles gets too tough.
Verdict: Rock of Ages revels in big-haired kitsch

Renuka Vyavahare, Times of India
A typical feel-good musical revolving around the life of 20-somethings who come to LA, seeking fame and fortune just like their idol, Rock god of the 80's Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). Fans of rock n roll worship Stacee while women find the chest-groping, eccentric heavy metal icon and his gaze intoxicating. They imagine him in slow motion all the time! However, fame and money comes with a price. Slave to rock n roll, wild sex, Stacee faces identity crisis when a reporter questions his drunken debauchery.

Rock of Ages is decently entertaining; especially if you are a fan of 80's rock n roll. If not, the song and dance routine gets to you after a while but it is Tom Cruise who truly manages to rock the film. His metamorphosis is stunning. Watch the film for Tom Cruise. The 49-year-old still has it in him to seduce the ladies!

Verdict: Set in 1987, Rock of Ages is 'Glee' meets 'Burlesque'.

Daniel Pinto, DNA

Rating: 2

Rock of Ages resurrects the radio staples, taking viewers back witness the twilight years of Rock ‘n Roll in Los Angeles in the 1980s.

There is little to discuss about the uninspiring story. But one thing the film gets right is the depiction of the days of when guitars still ruled, churning out ballads that set lighters waving and foot-stomping, fist-pounding anthems.

The swaggering, leatherclad Tom Cruise proves that he is still in form with his performance as narcissistic, burnt-out rocker who is completely divorced from reality and the fact that his sleazy managed (well-played by Paul Giamatti) has got him on a leash.Zeta-Jones puts up a good performance, her bloodthirsty character’s two-dimensional nature notwithstanding. Boneta and Hough exude the appropriate amount of charm but the chemistry between Baldwin and Brand’s character makes for a more entertaining watch.

Verdict: Should you watch it? If you are a fan of thrashy musicals, sure why not, you will encounter this at some point or the other, plus this one would possibly help you branch out in terms of your taste in music.

Priyanka Ketkar,

Rating: 2.5/5

What’s Good?: The music that will take rock fans to the rock age; Tom Cruise’s look & performance; the rest of the cast’s infectious enjoyment.

What’s Bad?: The story can be found in between the collage of music videos; nothing new to offer in terms of story; it’s too long… it overstays its welcome.

Verdict: The fans of rock or those who have grown listening to Def Leppard, Journey, Guns N’ Roses etc. will find it a delightful journey into the past. But for the rest it’s just a musical that rarely has any story and overstays its welcome.

First Published: Jun 15, 2012 13:47 IST