Rock of Ages: Not for Me
Movie Mood: I was out of town. I went with my little brother. The theater itself was not crowded and actually awesome. I was in the desert where it was hot and had been really hot, but then went into a really cold theater...and was freezing.
My overall reaction to this movie is a general sense of ick. It felt more rated R to me than PG-13 - mostly because my little brother was with me and I felt sensitive to every strip club scene and over-the-top-exposed-tongue-makeout -scene. I felt a little bit like I thought I was taking my little brother to a hamburger joint - but found out after we had ordered that it was actually a strip club. I'm fully aware that I was overly sensitive to these things - because of my movie mood.
That said - wow - this show was a train wreck. Adam Shankman, known by most as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, directed this and also previously directed the movie-musical Hairspray. In Hairspray - the numbers are intended to be amped up and shiny - high energy and big smiles. It seems he encouraged the same kind of amping up in Rock of Ages - but the material - sex, drugs, rock n roll - 80s -didn't lend itself to amping up to this degree or in the unintentionally shiny way it was intensified. It made the show feel campy instead of sincere - but perhaps that was the point. And while most of the cast amped up 100% - Catherine Zeta Jones amped up 1000% - playing an overly intense politicians wife with an agenda to rid the city of its Rock 'n Roll center - the Bourbon Club owned by Alec Baldwin. Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand run this club where Stacy Jaxx (Tom Cruise) started his career and returns to play.
Baldwin and Brand fully surrender to the ridiculousness of their moronic characters and this silly show. And when they sing "I can't fight this feeling" to each other and Alec Baldwin was twirling Russell Brand on an empty disco floor - I was impressed with their commitment to the comedy and laughed outloud. I was sad to see Mia Michaels did the choreography - who is amazing on SYTYCD - I really didn't enjoy her work in this - mostly because of that overly amped up feeling of the whole movie. Hit Me With Your Best Shot was particularly troublesome and cheesey over-the-top and over literal. I like Julianne Hough on Dancing With The Stars - in this...she's a great dancer...I really find her vacant in the acting department and adequate to decent in the singing department. Diego Boneta is somewhat enjoyable for me - especially when they had him dressed ridiculously and joining a boy band. I did a little bit love that this movie morally equated boy band-ery with stripping. It is amusing to watch this talented and unexpected cast in the musical environment. At one point I leaned over and said to my little brother, "Is Paul Giamatti SINGING?" Tom Cruise is the most intense presense in the film, but I felt he was performing a master class in physical rock star movement. In most scenes I was distracted by his specifically bent back and body - to appear stoned and aloof? He is the best thing in this film and did embody - the nuances of (I'm assuming) Axyl Rose. Most of his singing was fine, but when his scenes turned particularly campy - in his scenes with Malin Ackerman, he lost some of that presence and decent singing ability.
I will say that the movie does have retro active effects on those of us who lived and enjoyed the big hair band - rock music of the 80s. It does effectively conjur up fond memories of fun music - and I think that is the intent - to make us forget the story and enjoy the music and the flash of hideous clothing and characters from long ago. I did enjoy seeing a group of protesting rockers that included Debbie(Fine, Deborah) Gibson (Sorry - she will always be Debbie to me) Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Kevin Cronin (REO Speedwagon) and Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger). Also fun to see Constantine Maroulis, who received a Tony nomination for the Diego Boneta part in the stage show - in a brief cameo. Go American Idol! I know we are supposed to be loving the return to cheese - but I just didn't. I was particularly affected by my movie mood on this one - and could not surrender to the silliness and the camp. Because this is a movie version of a broadway/stage production - I think the adaptation was too literal and some of this campiness that I hated would probably work in a live production with moving scenery, a live band and a lesser known cast. For some reason I was thinking this show would work on both stage and screen like The Wedding Singer did - and I love both the movie and stage productions of that show. The stage show is more cheesey and yes, campy - but that genre really lends itself to it. I think it must be easier to adapt from screen to stage than from stage to screen.
I say wait til the edited version shows up on cable or listen to the the 30 seconds snippets from the soundtrack on iTunes for free.
Movie Mood: Saw this late at night at the dollar movie. My mood was tired and a little uncomfortable. I walked in not super excited to see this - but (with Rachel) felt the need to support my Friday Night Lights friends - Peter Berg, Taylor Kitsch and Jesse Plemons.
Immediately following this movie - I had only negative things to say about it - It felt long - aliens, snoozefest of an action movie?! But, when I sat down and thought about writing this - I think I really liked this one. I loved its use of and hi-light of the Navy. Taylor Kitsch is great...Liam Neeson is great. Even Rihanna - great. Jesse Plemons - funny. And I am always delighted to see Hamish Linklater anywhere - and found him to be his usual dry and perfectly sarcastic funny self. I love the relationship between the Japanese ship and the main ship and their commanding officers. It is a clever way to bring the Hasbro game to life. The story mostly made sense even though it included aliens. I love the real life touches - specifically real life war hero Lieutenant Gregory D Gadstone - a double amputee. He was amazing. Purposefully loud and flashy and big, it is a great film for what it is intended to be - action adventure summer movie fare. My movie mood totally threw me off on this one - and my tiredness and less desirable locale (though great company) made me struggle through it a little - unnecessarily so.
I say - dollar movie is great for this one - if you miss it at the dollars - definitely red box it.