DIR: Adam Shankman • WRI: Allan Loeb, Justin Theroux • PRO: Adam Shankman, Tobey Maguire, Matt Weaver • DOP: Bojan Bazelli • ED: Emma Hickox • DES: Jon Hutman • Cast: Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russel Brand, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Musicals are the epitome of cinematic marmite. You either love them or you hate them. Rock of Ages is no different. The film tells the story of Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and Drew (Diego Boneta) and their romance during the ‘hair metal’ era of 1980s Los Angeles. Sherrie and Diego work at the Bourbon Room. The owners, Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and Lonny (Russell Brand) are about to put on the final concert of Arsenal, a heavy metal band that’s fronted by a mercurial singer, Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). It’s here that Drew gets his big break and begins the story of the film. Concurrent to this, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Bryan Cranston – who play a mayoral couple looking to wipe heavy metal from the streets of Los Angeles – are plotting to shut down the Bourbon Room and run them out of business.
As mentioned earlier, musicals are either in your taste or they aren’t. It’s very difficult for someone that has a passing interest in the genre to watch this film, given that they break into song every five seconds. Rock of Ages is a cheesy romp and it makes no excuses for it. Most of the songs are based in that era, including Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar (On Me)’ and Bon Jovi’s ‘Dead Or Alive’ as well as some originals, too. It’s clear from watching the film that the cast were thoroughly enjoying their time on screen. Tom Cruise’s singing voice is surprisingly good and Russell Brand is playing a role he’s lived for the past thirty-odd years.
The young couple at the centre of the film are schmaltzy and corny beyond belief. However, the film itself is not to be taken seriously therefore this can be easily forgiven. Adam Shankman’s direction is straight-forward and to the point. Having worked on musicals prior to this, Hairspray being one of them, it’s clear he has a talent for the genre and it’s evident throughout. The plot and screenplay are all very much rudimentary and simply serve to bridge the huge musical set-pieces together. The film is very much a faithful adaptation of the musical and fans of it will not be disappointed. Rock of Ages is enjoyable and a tongue-in-cheek ode to a musical fad that’s best left in the history books. If musicals work no charm on you, however, you’ll find Rock of Ages a grating experience.
Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details) Rock of Agesis released on 15th June 2012
DIR: Craig Brewer • WRI: Dean Pitchford, Craig Brewer • PRO: Patrick Rofoli, Dylan Sellers, Brad Weston, Craig Zadan, Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Timothy M. Bourne, Neil Meron • ED: Billy Fox • DOP: Amy Vincent • DES: Jon Gary Steele • CAST: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid
Craig Brewer was a perfect choice for the remake of this 1984 classic what with his previous film, the soulful Black Snake Moan, tackling all the same themes as the original – exclusion, social change, the small town mentality and royidin! Unfortunately Brewer decided not to go down that route, and instead turned what should have been an innovative modern interpretation into washy teenage drivel. Footloose would have been more aptly titled: ‘Bring it On: Save the last Step Up’.
Plot-wise, little has changed since the original, Ren McCormack is still a rebellious out-of-towner, this time he was from Boston instead of Chicago. After his move to the small, conservative country town of Bomont, Ren quickly makes enemies because of his… don, don, DON: Loud music (pause for gasps). After befriending native goofball, Willard, Ren discovers that all dancing has been banned because some local teenagers died in a car accident. Naturally. So now this badboy-with-a-conscious must take on the town council so that his fellow high-schoolers can once again bust-a-move – all the while ‘doing a line’ with the preacher’s wild daughter.
The acting in this film makes the cast of The Room look like Oscar-bait. Between this and his performance in Soul Surfer, Dennis Quaid has earned himself a top spot on my enemies list – yet still remains the best thing about the cast. The ghastly Kenny Wormald (Ren) should have stuck to dancing, as apparently he can only manage two faces: grinning creepily and not grinning. Creepily. There is absolutely no chemistry between him and his co-star, the equally woeful Julianne Hough. In fact there is little prelude to their relationship whatsoever other than some sarcastic banter.
The pretext is ridiculous; in this day and age would anywhere in the Western World really ban dancing? Really? The original movie was set in a different time, echoing civil disturbance and bringing humanity to both sides of the argument with powerhouse performances. All Footloose 2011 appears to do is lamely redeliver dialogue and dip in-and-out of hill-billy stereotypes.
MTV would have been better off putting the 25 million towards Jersey Shore: The Movie. It would have had more class than this.
Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details) Footloose is released on 14th October 2011