Rock "n" roll comedy Rock Of Ages hits a duff note after getting all the chords wrong

Rock 'n' roll comedy Rock Of Ages hits a duff note after getting all the chords wrong

By
Chris Tookey

PUBLISHED:

23:06 GMT, 14 June 2012

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UPDATED:

00:28 GMT, 15 June 2012

ROCK OF AGES (12A)

Verdict: Tacky and not terribly original

Camper than a Russell Grant dance and cheesier than Gorgonzola soup, Rock Of Ages is musical silliness for anyone who found Footloose too intellectual.

It’s crass when it should be comic, and hasn’t an innovative thought in its head, but the stage version is a hit, so clearly there’s an audience for the world’s tackiest jukebox musical, built around heavy-metal anthems that mostly sold better in the U.S. than here.

It tells the utterly hackneyed story — check out 42nd Street if you want to see it done properly — of a small-town girl with dreams of showbiz success.

Scroll down to watch the trailer

Hair-raisingly bad: Alec Baldwin, left, and Russell Brand, right, fail to deliver laughs

Hair-raisingly bad: Alec Baldwin, left, and Russell Brand, right, fail to deliver laughs

She’s played by Julianne Hough, who is a two-time winner of Dancing With The Stars (the U.S. version of Strictly Come Dancing) and has the heavy-metal street cred of sliced Wonderloaf. Her character arrives in 1987 Los Angeles and falls in love with a hunky barman who longs to be a singer- songwriter (Diego Boneta).

There’s a good chance he will fail, as the first song he composes for her is Don’t Stop Believin’, a hit for Journey way back in 1981. ‘I can’t believe you wrote that,’ she has to gasp with a straight face.

Both work in a rock club run by ageing heavy-metal fan Alec Baldwin and his British assistant — Russell Brand with an accent that roams between Birmingham and Liverpool.

Too bad that the moralising mayor of LA (Bryan Cranston) and his born-again Christian wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) want to close it down for being a Satanic influence on the young.

Yes, that’s right. We are asked to believe the religious Right ran LA in the Eighties. The real mayor at that time was Tom Bradley, a black Democrat noted for his liberalism.

In Character: Stacee Jaxx, played by Tom Cruise, wears a bejewelled codpiece over his leather trousers and has a constant entourage of scantily clad girls

In Character: Stacee Jaxx, played by Tom Cruise, wears a bejewelled codpiece over his leather trousers and has a constant entourage of scantily clad girls

More credible is the idea that Baldwin’s club is in trouble with the taxman. ‘Taxes are so un-rock ’n’ roll,’ he complains. But he hopes his club is going to be saved by the last gig of the Arsenal, a heavy-metal band fronted by an insane alcoholic egomaniac, played — for maximum zaniness — by Tom Cruise.

Yet Cruise’s grasping, seedy manager (Paul Giamatti) has other ideas on where the profits should go.

Suspend any notions of real life, good music or taste, and this show has plenty of energy. Cruise’s miming leaves something to be desired, and his gym-toned torso is absurdly wrong for an alcoholic, but he reveals an OK singing voice and unexpected skills as an electric guitarist.

And there’s a memorably camp love duet between two of movieland’s most notorious heterosexuals.

If you’re in the mood for cheerful rubbish and suffer from a mysterious need to be deafened, you could do a lot worse. It reminds me most of cult hit Coyote Ugly, another film that seriously proposes pole-dancing and casual sex with unappetising men as means of feminist empowerment.

Adam Shankman directs with the raucous enthusiasm he brought to Hairspray, which remains his most entertaining work. He also directed three of the worst comedies in history: Cheaper By The Dozen 2, The Pacifier and The Wedding Planner.

Classy, he ain’t. Nor is this film. But some people might consider it a guilty pleasure.

Now watch the trailer