"Rock of Ages" hits theaters today, which means diehard hair metal fans who just couldn't bring themselves to let go of their acid wash jeans and Def Leppard t-shirts (I'm looking at you, West Allis) can finally indulge in their nostalgia outside of '80s cover bands.
The movie, based on the Broadway musical of the same name, centers around small-town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and city boy Drew (Diego Boneta) as they both strive to make it big in L.A.'s rock music scene. Along the way, their paths intertwine with an ensemble of deliciously exaggerated characters and the biggest rock anthems and ballads the '80s has to offer.
The big screen version of the Tony-nominated stage show borrows a lot more than the story from its Broadway muse. Frenzied scene cuts and mash-up montages are liberally scattered throughout to help juggle the movie's ensemble cast and laundry list of storylines. Even the visuals maintain the feel of a Broadway show -- between the elaborate staging and multiple choreographed numbers it's easy to see the source material peeking through.
While the original production channeled most of its star power into its lead, "American Idol" alum Constantine Maroulis, the movie gets its flash from a whole collection of names -- none bigger than the one and only Tom Cruise. Despite the publicity, Cruise's role as Stacee Jaxx takes a backseat to the wide-eyed lovebirds. But, the quirky star absolutely steals the spotlight when his kooky supernova of a rock star is in range of the camera. All the actors -- who make up a list that also includes Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Russell Brand and Bryan Cranston -- have clearly signed on to let loose and have some stupid fun, and they've definitely succeeded.
You'd think a movie about a decade generally remembered for its awful hair, awful clothes and yes, awful music, would be, well, awful. And you would be right. "Rock of Ages" is awful. But, it's the best kind of awful -- it embraces the dirty fountain of hair spray, eyeshadow and leather it has to work with and makes cheesy, over-the-top love to it in a skeezed-out truck stop bathroom.
"Rock of Ages" channels all the bombast, glitz and gender-bending glamour of the hair metal era, and tops it off with the showbiz flavor of Broadway. No one's getting any Oscars for this two-hour stretch of ridiculousness, but I'd raise a lighter for it all the same.
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