Rock of Ages: Review Roundup

Tom Cruise

Rock of Ages, the $75 million film adaptation of the 2009 Tony-nominated Broadway musical, took in an underwhelming $15.1 million in its first weekend, though it has received generally positive reviews. The creative team includes Adam Shankman (direction), Justin Theroux, Chris D’Arienzo and Allan Loeb (screenplay), Bojan Bazelli (cinematography), Emma E. Hickox (editing), Adam Anders and Peer Astrom (score), Mia Michaels (choreography), Jon Hutman (production design), and Rita Ryack (costumes).

The cast includes Julianne Hough (Sherrie), Diego Boneta (Drew), Paul Giamatti (Paul Gill), Russell Brand (Lonny), Mary J. Blige (Justice), Angelo Donato Valderrama (Chico), Malin Akerman (Constance), Bryan Cranston (Mike Whitmore), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Patricia Whitmore), Alec Baldwin (Dennis Dupree), and Tom Cruise (Stacee Jaxx). Rated PG-13.

Manohla Dargis (N.Y. Times): Rock of Ages … is just entertaining enough to keep you from dark thoughts about the state of Hollywood. The movie is too insipid for such hand wringing. … The whole thing rests on a, er, bedrock of clichés from Hollywood’s favorite genre: movies about itself. This Wonder Bread banality comes from how thoroughly Mr. Shankman has vacuumed his rock-scene simulacrum of anything recognizably rock, including the lust, juice, heat, bad behavior and excesses that characterize its real-life analogue. There isn’t any grit to these people or their art, not a speck of dirt anywhere. It looks like Disneyland and sounds, well, like a bad Broadway musical, with all the power belting and jazz-hand choreography that implies. … All the songs are sung, mostly without shame or distinction, by the actors themselves, who slide into the warbling as if into a conversation.

Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun Times): A lot of it is zesty entertainment, with some energetic musical numbers; several big names (Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin) prove they can sing well enough. … Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages not only has a high-profile cast, but they never seem to be slumming; they play their roles with great intensity and earnestness, which is really the only way to do satire. … There isn’t an original idea in the screenplay by Justin Theroux and Chris D’Arienzo, based on an Off-Broadway hit. Even the songs are oldies. And that’s OK, because the actors are having a lot of fun, and the production values of the musical numbers are slick and high-spirited. The only problem is that the plot meanders when nobody is singing.

Christy Lemire (AP): Your enjoyment of this musical, based on the Tony-nominated Broadway show, will depend greatly on your enjoyment of this music. … 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. … Two and a half stars out of four.

Kenneth Turan (L.A. Times): A triumph of genial impudence over good sense and better taste, Rock of Ages is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. Blessed with unstoppable energy, an undeniably bawdy sense of fun and Tom Cruise in backless leather pants, it takes songs you may never have loved and turns them into a musical that’s easy to enjoy. … Its essential sweetness leavened by knowing winks, Rock of Ages succeeds as well as it does because of its unlikely combination of a guileless, thunderously clichéd boy-meets-girl plot structure conveyed in a sophisticated, showbiz-savvy style. The film is also filled with actors willing to dive headfirst into their roles and take the endeavor’s inherent foolishness seriously, all with an eye toward enhancing the audience’s fun.

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