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: David Wain • WRI: David Wain, Ken Marino • PRO: Judd Apatow, Ken Marino, Paul Rudd, David Wain • DOP: Michael Bonvillain • ED: David Moritz, Robert Nassau • DES: Aaron Osborne • Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Malin Akerman, Ray Liotta
David Wain’s latest offering, Wanderlust stars two of comedy’s current sweethearts, Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd, and so should have the potential of being the first real comedy hit of the year. Wain’s last feature Role Models also starred Rudd as an uptight male lead to Seann William Scott’s moron, but here Rudd is allowed the opportunity to take the helm of male lead alone, and alongside old friend Jennifer Aniston, offers us an effortlessly charming, but ultimately predictable comedy caper.
Rudd plays George to Aniston’s Linda, a tightly-wound Manhattan couple for whom the term ‘stressed-out’ is an understatement. When George finds himself out of a job, their only option appears to be moving in with George’s atrocious brother in Atlanta. The idea of the uptight Manhattan couple being forced out of their comfort zones and learning something along the way is one that has been long propagated on screen, but Wanderlust offers something slightly different. On their way, the couple somehow stumble upon Elysium, an apparently idyllic community peppered with characters that see the world in a different way to George and Linda. From money to clothing, nothing is essential in Elysium, and whilst our protagonists are refreshed by this change in priorities, it may ultimately cause them more emotional harm than good – as is generally the case when nudity and the elderly get together.
Wanderlust has all of the ingredients for greatness, but is either lacking some secret ingredient, or the addition of too much nudity has spoiled the broth. As we learned with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, an unexpected penis shot is always good for a giggle, but here the writers have gotten somewhat lazy and decided to rely heavily on the humour of the elderly male form, to which the audience has already become numb. Wanderlust has the potential to be a massive hit but unfortunately isn’t always as funny as it should be.
The writing is often awkward and a little forced, but, having known each other since the good old days of Friends, Rudd and Aniston have so much on-screen chemistry that they could dictate the Golden Pages to each other, and still manage to hold their audience captivated. Wanderlust is the perfect movie for a first date, charming, enjoyable, but also effortless as the twists and turns are usually noticed long before they happen, meaning that it asks nothing but giggles from its audience. Although the script isn’t exactly top-notch, it is refreshing to see that it doesn’t dissolve into a hideous slapstick mess as is often the case with recent comedy.
The entire film has a sense of looseness, freedom and the idea that ‘anything goes’ which, although it is entirely in keeping with the situation in which our protagonists find themselves, doesn’t quite fit with the film format, and leaves the audience slightly confused, and waiting patiently for the next charming moment between Rudd and Aniston. It is the actors and not the story that makes Wanderlust worth a viewing, with this many funny people throwing their hats into the ring, it’s impossible not to leave the cinema feeling somewhat charmed and satisfied, despite the fact that you’ve already forgotten the story. All in all, we’re just glad that it doesn’t star Adam Sandler.
Wanderlust offers some moments of intelligent comedy, but the intervention of a senior citizen full-frontal shot ultimately ensures its fate resting among the charming yet silly comedies that have gone before. The good news for our protagonists though is that it is the charm of Rudd and Aniston alone that carries this movie and, given the right script, the duo has the potential to be this generation’s king and queen of Rom Com.
Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details) Wanderlust is released on 2nd March 2012