I will forever stand by my argument that I WAS an 80’s child. Even though I was born in ’77, I grew up listening to the sounds of Aerosmith, Foreigner, Whitesnake, Journey etc. I might have been young but I’ve always loved music. At the age of 4, I clearly remember the day MTV first aired on August 1, 1981. My brother is 13 years older than me and I remember when it came on, I was told not to go in his room because MTV wasn’t “appropriate” for a kid my age. (boy how things have changed). I started listening to my 45 of Billy Joel’s “It’s Still rock and Roll to Me” when I was only 5. By the time I was around 9-10yrs old, I knew all the words to most of the well-known 80’s rock band songs. Music has definitely changed since then but most of us still love those old sounds. Concerts such as Journey and Aerosmith still sell out to this day, so the spirit of rock is not dead…it definitely lives on.
When I saw the “Rock of Ages” preview for the first time, I knew that it was a move I MUST see. I had my doubts about some of the casting – 50 year old Tom Cruise as an 80’s rock star? What? But now having seen it I can say the production crew did a fabulous casting job. Everyone was SPOT ON. Set in 1987, the story is predictable as most campy musicals are: girl leaves small town searching for fame in Hollywood…girl meets boy and finds love instead….girl and boy have misunderstanding and go their separate ways only to meet up again towards the end to make up and have a happy ending. In the meantime, there is a parallel story about a Steven Tyler/Axel Rose/Bret Michaels mixed character (Tom Cruise) who’s popularity can save a little dive bar venue from being shut down by the mayor and his over-the-top wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) but the plan goes sour at the hands of his slimy agent (Paul Giamatti). All ends well during the closing scenes and you can’t help but have a smile on your face as you exit the theater.
Every single actor and actress had an incredible singing voice. There are even a few appearances by Mary J Blige towards the end of the film. Also bringing good and surprising talent to the screen were Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin. Those guys can actually sing (Russell Brand more so) and were always good for some improv and hilarious moments that will have your sides splitting. I was truly and undeniably shocked when I heard Tom Cruise open his mouth for the first time singing Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive”. As one of my favorite songs ever, I am a tough critic but he was absolutely amazing. He must’ve worked closely with several of the 80’s greats during filming. His body movements were dead-on while doing the stage performances and even his appearance and way of speaking embodied the exact persona of the likes of Axel Rose, Steven Tyler, Bon Jovi and Bret Michaels. I did read somewhere that Bret Michaels thoroughly enjoyed Cruise’s performance and thought he played it perfectly.
There are a few scenes that feature some well-known rock star cameos you may or may not notice like Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin and Debbie Gibson. Watch during one of the large group scenes towards the end while singing a combination song of “We Built This City” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” You will see them. Keep your eyes out throughout the movie, you will notice more.
I absolutely loved this movie. I will definitely buy it when it comes out on DVD and I have a CD of the soundtrack on its way to me from Amazon already. The only negative critique I can give it is it’s rating. I take my 11 and 13 year old kids to several PG-13 movies and it is normally a safe call. This movie however…NOT appropriate for them. The whole movie is full off suggestive sexual content and doesn’t leave much to the imagination. So, unless you have an extremely mature “tween”, I wouldn’t take them to this one. More than likely it’s not their kind of music anyway and won’t run the risk of embarrassing them from singing along!