Rock of Ages

Tom Cruise is an authentic movie star. His roles have ranged from a virginal teenager ("Risky Business") and a cocky pilot ("Top Gun"), to a wheel-chair bound Viet Nam vet ("Born on the Fourth of July"); from an action hero ("Mission Impossible") and a German WWII Officer ("Valkyrie"), to a pudgy, profane movie producer ("Tropic Thunder"); he has nothing left to prove, so he can cut 'er loose and let 'er rip!

Scriptwriters Justin Theroux ("Tropic Thunder"), Allan Loeb ("The Dilemma"), and Chris D'Arienzo ("Barry Munday") bring to the screen the long-running stage hit that is unabashedly an old-fashioned musical: people sing in a Greyhound bus, on city streets, backstage in a theater, in a Tower Records (remember those?) and under the Hollywood sign. The music is mostly the same six notes, reconfigured over and over, while the PG-13 script is full of clichés, double entendres, and stereo- types, but we don't care.

We start in Los Angeles, 1987: post-Pill and pre-AIDS. Small-town starry- eyed girl/Big-city starry-eyed boy + Sunset Strip. Did I mention clichés?
  • Tom Cruise ("Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol") is Stacee Jaxx, a mega-rock star, who stalks through life half-stoned. Women swarm all over him and church ladies are in a snit!
  • Malin Akerman ("The Proposal") is Constance Sack, with Rolling Stone. When Jaxx hears that, he asks, "Where's Mick?" She has to explain she's with the magazine, not the band.
  • Julianne Hough ("Footloose") is Sherrie Christian, subtle, right? After being mugged her first night in L.A., she lands a job as a waitress in a rock club and falls for a singing bartender, but life goes downhill from there.
  • Diego Boneta ("Pretty Little Liars") is Drew Boley, who found that job for our heroine. After they break up and then suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, they meet on the street and compare sad stories. "I'm working as a stripper." "I'm in a boy band." "You win!"
  • Alec Baldwin ("It's Complicated") is Dennis Dupree, the owner of the club where most of the action takes place. (When Baldwin wears jeans, they look like dungarees, not Levis.)
  • Russell Brand ("Arthur" 2011) is Lonny, Dupree's homo-centric right-hand man and perennial M.C. for the club.
  • Mary J. Blige (Lots of TV and the soundtrack) as Justice Charlier, is the good-hearted gal who gives our heroine the job at the strip club because "the ones on stage make the money!"
  • Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") is Mike Whitmore, a candidate for mayor. Cranston is, once again, exploiting his "bad boy" image.
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones ("No Reservations") is Patricia Whitmore, Mike's wife and a Community Organizer. She seems to have a secret past which goads her to fight Rock and Roll. It's great to see Zeta-Jones sing and dance again. Remember "Chicago?"
  • Paul Giamatti ("Sideways") is Paul Gill, the smarmy manager whose job it is to exploit and use up performers.
The finale reviews all the characters so we can see where the story has brought them. We followed their issues and want to see how they coped.

Kudos for the folks who made the decision about the final credits: Each character is pictured, along with the actor's name. I realize this costs extra, but it is soooo welcome, and I LOVE it! Thank you.
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Here is a link to a preview:
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