Based on a Broadway musical, the story in Rock Of Ages is little more than a thin and inconsequential clothesline upon which to hang a succession of big soft rock numbers. With characters bursting into song whenever life gets too tough, the peppy, earnest and often cheesy vibe is substantially more Glee-like than you might imagine of a film about rock and roll. Of course, director Adam Shankman has had success with this sort of thing before (see Hairspray), but here his tale of rockers and wannabe rockers offers little more than a clichéd MOR karaoke session.
That said, things liven up significantly whenever Tom Cruise is on screen. Fiercely committed, his thrusting performance as rock god Stacee Jaxx is wasted here (quite literally) and deserves a better movie, while his rendition of Dead Or Alive may well be the highlight. Unfortunately, though, when it comes to screen time the Cruiser comes a distant third to Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough, whose star-crossed lovers aren’t nearly as interesting.
At times, Rock Of Ages threatens to get involving – Jaxx’s question-dodging interview with Malin Akerman’s Rolling Stone journalist, a late dig at the industry pushing boy bands – but every time someone just breaks into song again. Plus, despite how insubstantial the story is, the whole thing still feels about half an hour too long. Oh well, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Russell Brand are decent fun in support, even if Brand can’t quite decide on what accent he’s doing.