I mean. Okay. So first let me just clarify that when I go to the movies, I see three or four at a time. So, I see a lot of movies that I wouldn’t pay for by themselves. Which brings me to Rock of Ages.
First of all, this movie is a musical. I did not know that when I entered the theatre. Maybe I didn’t see the right preview, or a full preview or any preview at all. My memory of why I went into this movie is a bit hazy. I suppose I was interested in the train wreck that has become Tom Cruise. Like, I love Mission Impossible 2 as much as the next person, but as time goes on it just becomes clearer and clearer that he’s a closeted short sad washed up little man with a jawline serving as a hint of good looks past.
I learned it was a musical literally in the first MINUTE of the movie. Julianne Hough (who has no real qualities that would make her description vary from your average barbie doll, just more hairspray) who of course is a small town girl from Oklahoma, moving to Hollywood to make it big, is sitting on a bus and opens her mouth and starts SINGING. Everyone else is just sitting on the bus like they can’t hear her SINGING. It’s so awkward. That suspension of reality that happens in musicals is so jarring to me. Also just because inexplicably people like Glee, doesn’t mean you can just throw singing in whenever you feel like it, it’s not the wave of the future. Glee is an anomaly not a trend. There was ENTIRELY too much singing in this movie. and I’m a singer- I appreciate the gift of song. But there is a time and a place for everything, and two people shopping at a used record store (oh also this movie was set like 25 years ago) isn’t the time to burst into a choreographed song and dance number about feelings or the economy or whatever they were singing about.
So basically Julianne Hough moves to Hollywood to purse her dream of singing (I’ve never heard that before!) Of course when she gets there her suitcase (flower print) gets stolen, and a knight in shining armor rescues her and gets her a job at a rock and roll club/bar. She has a love interest, a job and part of her dream come true within five minutes of arrival. COME ON. Anyway. So that happens. She’s like in love or whatever, then there’s this huge concert planned with Stacee Jaxx (the most feminine rocker name ever- also that has to be a joke the double letters… and when Ke$ha spells her name with a dollar sign, that’s ironic right?) who is Tom Cruise. So they all get ready for the show- Alec Baldwin is the owner of the club and Russell Brand is his sort of second in command/helper. Throughout the movie I was like, “there are a lot of gay vibes between these two” then they turned out to be gay. So, either this movie is very very transparent, or my gaydar is on point. Whichever you feel is most appropriate.
sidenote: when I just googled him to make sure that was the correct way to spell his name, an article entitled ‘Flop of Ages’ came up. lol.
Anyway. So when Paul goes into Stacee/Tom’s dressing room, there’s a monkey with a gun, a jungle river bed setup, and a lot of half naked women lying on top of a mound, the only part of which we can see is a jewel encrusted snake, which ends up being a crotch cover. It’s ridiculous. Basically, Drew (the mop headed disney rocker lite boyfriend of Cherrie/Julianne) also wants to be a singer, and he gets his break, he and his band are opening for Stacce. But right before he goes on he sees his gf coming out of Sttaace’s dressing room and he thinks they HAD SEX. So he gets all male ego standoffish, and she gets all sad woman crying. They go their separate ways. Staace’s manager signs Drew, Julianne (whose name is Sherrie in the movie- I feel like I have a physical stutter, typing all these double letters. wwttff) quits her job at the Bourbon (the club) and goes through this whole ‘trying to get a job’ montage where she’s walking in the rain in various items of wet denim, with a center part and her money in a coffee can, applying for jobs everywhere. She doesn’t get any of them, which leads her to working AS A STRIPPER FOR MARY J. BLIGE. They do a duet, and then poof! She’s a stripper.
Okay. I have SO much to say about this. First of all, they had this whole montage with girls writhing around on poles and on the floor and it’s during the ‘we’re women, we’re not taking shit from anyone’ message part. Mary J. Blige is set up as this pillar of wisdom, (think grandmother willow in Pocahontas) each bead in her hair is like a life lesson. (O right, she has these Bo Derek beaded braids going on). Only Hollywood could spin working at a strip club into something empowering. M.J literally says, “The only place you’re gonna get respect is on that stage. That stage is a pedestal, up there you’re untouchable.” WHAT THE F. At least they cut between Drew signing a contract with a big record label as a pop act and Cherrie stripping, so there’s somewhat of an undertone of selling yourself as a bad thing.
An interesting thing about this movie is that they sidestep the usual kerfuffle of coming up with songs that are as good as they’re supposed to be in the context of the movie. They just use really popular songs and pretend that the characters in the movie wrote them. for example, Drew shows Sherrie this song he wrote for her. It’s Don’t Stop Believing by Journey. Which leads me to the question how many times is that song going to be used during an emotional climax??? Lord. I’m done with it. Why isn’t everyone else?
There were some satisfying metal cameos at the rally in the street. Oh, an entire subplot I forgot to mention- probably because plot is so thinly veiled and flimsy in this movie- is that Catherine Zeta Jones is the mayor’s wife and she has a personal vendetta against Staceee Jaxx (because they hooked up once upon a time) but now she’s this insane church family values lady and she’s working with other church mothers to ban rock and roll, etc. The usual spiel. Catherine Zeta Jones actually has this impressive cover of ‘Hit Me With Your Best Shot’ where she dances very violently in a pastel pants suit thing. In a church.
OH also another side story is that Malin Akerman from Watchmen is a reporter from Rolling Stone and she interviews Staccee Jaxxx and she sort of tells him what’s up and that he’s a selfish asshole who’s riding the coattails of his earlier successes, but then they have sex on a pool table. So that veneer of credibility sort of flies right out the window. Also, she wears glasses but then when they start to get hot and heavy, somehow she doesn’t need them anymore. Maybe she’s nearsighted. Alec Baldwin articulated my feelings about this most eloquently, “I just threw up in my pants. Out of my ass.”
In the end, they sing Journey and everyone goes on tour together. I’m not making that up. Also Cherrie performs the final number in this sea foam green fringed bodysuit that’s so high cut you can see her vagina muscles. It’s like if Baywatch took place in a seedy bar instead of on a beach.
Overall, this movie was blandly entertaining, but mostly just sort of eye-rolling with the occasional funny joke. And whether or not that joke is funny intentionally, is unclear. Don’t watch this movie.