Posted by: David Stewart | June 13, 2012

Rock of Ages is…

Rock of Ages is the latest Broadway Muscial-to-Movie adaptation in a long and storied history of such things. If you loved Mamma Mia! and / or love the rock anthems of the 1980s, then by all means see it and sing along. Otherwise…

  • Rock has a thin story line (“wide-eyed girl comes to the big city” plus “old guy redeemed”) wrapping the music. Don’t come expecting Shakespeare.
  • The setting is 1987 Los Angeles in a rock music hall / bar managed by Alec Baldwin’s character. The portrayal is actually quite tame versus the reality of the time. There is no drug use shown or implied (other than rampant alcoholism), no animal sacrifices (but there is animal torture[1]), strippers dance with their clothes on and sexual naughtiness is implied rather than shown. But with all of that restraint, the whole thing seemed less playful or sardonic and more like “let’s see how sleazy we can be and get away with it.”
  • Tom Cruise plays a rock “god” who has aliened everyone in his life and hasn’t done any original wok in a decade. In spite of his antics of a few years ago, Cruise himself has been doing some really solid work lately. This role doesn’t do him any favors. He is far too intense to deliver on the burned-out stoner role, and the script provided no reason to care for this boozer loser.
  • An ick factor with Cruise’s character is how he greets women. Instead of shaking hands with a woman he doesn’t know, he grabs their breast and makes comments about it. Then consider that one of these women is 24 and Mr. Cruise is 50. Yuck.
  • Women were mostly treated either as playthings or sex objects. The one strong woman’s role (a strip club manager played by Mary K. Blige) seems motivated mostly by how a man hurt her. Motivations aside, the Blige character does retain a sense of integrity; but it’s a relatively thin character.
  • I thought the pacing really slowed down during several parts of the move, and I was checking my watch half way through. It’s very hard to adapt between the stage and the screen and I never saw the musical, so it’s not cler if this is just due to adaptation problems.

[1] There is a trained monkey who delivers many of the comic moments. Besides the indignity of throwing bottles of booze and wearing clothes, I suppose it was not technically torture.



  1. Sounds exactly like the movie I don’t want/need to watch. Thanks for sitting through it for me…

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