I came into this film prepared to hate it beyond end. I went to watch it because I think Catherine Zeta-Jones playing a conservative zealot and singing and dancing like she did in Chicago. At the same time, I grew up listening to musicals written by Kander and Ebb, Maury Yeston, Oscar and Hammerstein, Stephen Schwartz, Lerner and Lowe, and of course, Stephen Sondheim. I miss the days of old when musicals had original music and were gorgeous and memorable and somehow iconic. I’m a little peeved that a lot of musicals these days just pick up already existing songs and put them together into a story. Case in point, Mama Mia! and that one they did with all the songs of Queen. I find it unbelievably lazy.
I was so scared that Rock of Ages was going to be a whole mess and a sorry sort of a musical.
I was dead wrong. I laughed out loud, found myself singing along at some songs, and clapped at certain scenes. It was a riot and I had a blast.
I was not expecting the film to be an all out comedy. It was rip roaring funny and while it really made much light of rock and roll and the lifestyle, they did it with a whole lot of love. But they obviously wanted to have a lot of fun doing this film and that’s what they did, and what I like was that it wasn’t at the audience’s expense. We were in on in the joke. And it made me laugh.
Yeah, it’s a rock and roll fairy tale and if you are going to look for depth, then you really shouldn’t be searching for salt water fish in a pond. This is pop corn and just entertainment and I was entertained.
I was frightened for Julianne Hough. She has a cutesy face and she can be cutesy and I didn’t think I was going to like her but she won me over. She’s tougher than her appearance belies. And the girl can move. I believed her. I just didn’t like her voice. She has a very thin voice and it didn’t suit the rock songs in the movie. Her voice didn’t work well with the songs.
Diego Boneta was just all wrong for the part, I think. I didn’t believe him and he wasn’t a very good actor. He was too earnest, too bright-eyed, and had no spunk. He had no presence and his character needed it. He needed a quiet fire and he was all drenched. He looks more like a cutie cookie-cutter Disney product than a fledgling rockstar.
Everybody else was just terrific. As expected, Catherine Zeta-Jones killed it. She looked like she was having so much fun with the role and she let herself loose as the conservative wife of a Mayor with a hard-on to shut down rock god Stacee Jaxx. She killed the Pat Benatar classic Hit Me with Your Best Shot. Paul Giamatti was sleazy, Russell Brand was funny and charming, and Alec Baldwin was unbelievably unexpected.
I want to take this opportunity to say how happy I am that Mary J. Blige got to sing rock. I have always been so impressed with her pipes but always found her music to not showcase her talents. Here, she really sang the life out of the songs she was given and I want people to hear what she can do outside of the R&B style. This is just up her alley and I hope it is something she’d be interested in exploring, at least in an album or two.
Malin Ackerman was tremendous. She had a rather small role in comparison but she knew how to make the most out of her scenes. She is the most memorable for me in the whole movie. She is sexy, vivacious, alluring, and so damned funny. Her scene with Tom Cruise had me in stitches. She’s fabulous.
And Tom Cruise, wow, what a performance. He wasn’t being, you know? All Tom Cruise about things. I find it the most honest performance he has ever done. I saw his Stacee Jaxx, as absurd and crazy as it is written, I saw the humanity. I saw what made him a rock god. I saw him channeling Iggy Pop. I saw it. I was utterly surprised with that he could sing. I think his voice is a little thin for the rock songs, it could have been more full, but hurrah for Tom Cruise. I was sold and I really wanted to see what he was going to do next.
The arrangements were hit or miss and some of the song choices were a little off the mark, for me. I loved the mash-ups and I saw how they used some of the songs in the way the proper way in musicals. They go into song to say what they feel inside and they found some really good songs and interpreted it in such a way that it spoke of what the character was saying or feeling. I think the usage of Here I Go Again was used tremendously well.
I was so happy to see Mia Michaels as choreographer and I especially saw the Mia Michaels magic in the stripper pole dance scene when they sang Any Way You Want It and I even saw the beautiful Jaimie Goodwin from Season 3 of So You Think You Can Dance. You know how much I love that show. My brother saw her before I did but when I saw her, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
Director Adam Shankman really hit my funny bone this time round. I had lots of fun and that’s all I could have really asked for. It wasn’t going to change my life and I didn’t expect it to. But it made me happy. I laughed. I sang along. I clapped. I enjoyed myself.