Susan Granger's review of 'Rock of Ages'
Direct from the Broadway stage, blasting at deafening volume, this raucous rock musical adaptation is a seriously silly riff on life on Hollywood's famed Sunset Strip, back in 1987. That's when naïve Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) hops off the bus from Tulsa, Oklahoma, believing she's landed in paradise -- until her suitcase is stolen. Rushing to her rescue is wannabe rocker Drew Boley (Diego Boneta), who helps her snag a waitress job at the famed Bourbon Room, owned by Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and run by Dupree's devoted technician Lonny (Russell Brand). That's where legendary, debauched rock god/Arsenal front man Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) is scheduled to play his last gig before going solo, promising "I will light this place on fire!"
But romance embedded in the manic, dissolute, hard-rockin' lifestyle isn't easy, particularly when the Mayor's publicly pious wife, Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), vows to shut down the club to clean up the Sunset Strip; Jaxx's sleazy manager, Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti), manipulates the money; and a hard-hitting "Rolling Stone" reporter (Malin Akerman) turns a sex-driven interview into a Stacee Jaxx expose.
Audaciously scripted as a contrived, yet satirical jukebox musical by Justin Theroux, Chris D'Arienzo and Allen Loeb, and slickly directed with absurdist grandiosity by Alan Shankman ("Hairspray"), the nostalgic story - about fame, fortune and pursuing your heart's desire - surfaces only briefly between frenzied, ear-shredding energy blasts from the dazzling musical numbers.
While Julianne Hough ("Footloose," "Dancing with the Stars") and Diego Boneta ("90210") evoke star-struck young love, bare-chested, heavily tattooed, hard-bodied Tom Cruise steals the show, belting Foreigner's "I Wanna Know What Love Is," Joan Jett's "I Hate Myself For Loving You," "Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" and "Don't Stop Believin'."
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On the Granger Movie Gauge, "Rock of Ages" is a noisy, insanely fun, shameless 7. Embrace your inner rocker and party on!