(Musical, PG-13, 123 minutes)
Have you ever had those moments where you burst into song and then show off your dance movies with expert choreography? And then everybody around you sings in harmony and keeps the beat? And you live happily ever after?
In “Rock of Ages,” which opens today in theaters nationwide, it happens every 10 minutes. For a little more than two hours, a love story is told through some of the best rock and pop songs of the 1980s.
The movie is based on the Broadway musical of the same name, but be warned: If you love musicals, chances are this movie is for you. If you are a die-hard ’80s music fan but can barely make it though five minutes of “Glee,” then watch “Rock of Ages” at your own risk.
Sherrie (Julianne Hough) is a small-town girl, living in a lonely world (read: Oklahoma) who took a late-night bus (not a train) going anywhere … and by that, I mean Los Angeles.
Oh yes, there’s more where that came from.
Hough had a small role in “Burlesque,” a monstrosity of a movie with Christina Aguilera and Cher. This starts out as “Burlesque 2” but thankfully improves. Sherrie hops off the bus and in less than an hour has a job at The Bourbon Room and a boyfriend, Drew (played by newcomer Diego Boneta).
The Bourbon Room is the site of the last performance by Arsenal, a band headed by Stacee Jaxx (perfectly portrayed by Tom Cruise). Of course, Sherrie and Drew have music aspirations of their own, so everything is so perfect. They love rock and roll. Heck, the city was built on rock and roll.
Jaxx is about to venture out on a solo career — that is, if he can remain sober. He is the epitome of rocker excess, complete with alcohol, girls and money to burn. His seedy manager, Paul (Paul Giamatti) struggles to keep his artist in line — but sees a star in Drew.
But who knows what the future holds, especially with Mayor Mike Whitmore (Byran Cranston) and his zealous wife, Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in the mix. The mayor is a clueless politician, but his wife wants to rid the city of rock music — starting with Jaxx. What follows is a musical mashup of love, lust, success, failure and more.
As much as I thought this movie was going to be awful … I was wrong. But who was I kidding?
My favorite movie is “Grease,” and I watch “Glee” religiously. In my next life, I will come back as a Broadway performer. For the time being, I live vicariously through one by checking out as many musical theater performances as possible and singing along to the film “Chicago.” I admit it. I’m a sucker for these types of movies.
But there are many people who refuse to get sucked in. You will either love it or hate it. Just see go “The Avengers” again, and you’ll be OK.
The majority of the cast was perfect in their roles. Cruise embodied all the strangeness and quirkiness of Stacee Jaxx, including his consultations with a baboon named “Hey Man” and his comparison of The Bourbon Room to a fire phoenix. Even though Stacee Jaxx was slightly insane, Cruise still made him believable.
Zeta-Jones marveled as the diabolical and maniacal Patricia. She won an Oscar for her role in “Chicago,” and it was great seeing her in another film where she gets to show off her singing and dancing talents.
Hough was a decent pick for “Sherrie,” considering her role in “Footloose” and her career as a professional dancer and singer. Her voice has a slight helium-like quality to it, but when she belts out songs, it improves.
The same goes for Boneta: young, cute and talented. Although a slew of young actors could have pulled this off — including Hough’s “Footloose” co-star Kenny Wormald — Boneta shines in his first movie.
Now here’s the bad news: Alec Baldwin. He played The Bourbon Room’s manager, Dennis, but his role could have been called “Old Guy in the Bar.” He was paired with Lonny, played by Russell Brand who always looks like he is stuck in 1981. Brand made it work, but Baldwin failed. One word: Awkward.
However, the music saves it. The songs will be stuck in your head, and the performances are riveting. It will be hard not to bob your head and sing along to tracks such as “Dead or Alive,” “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Any movie based in the 1980s will have a certain degree of cheese to it, and “Rock of Ages” is loaded with it, albeit intentional and very strategic. But if you want to have a good time, this is a guaranteed way to do so.