It opens in a bus on its way to Los Angeles. A perky girl with headsets on, who looks like she just walked out of a Disney movie, starts singing out loud. Then the rest of the bus starts merrily singing along with her. And before Julie Andrews can be worked into the scene, the bus arrives in L. A. where the girl (played by newcomer Julianne Hough) is dropped off in the middle of the Sunset Strip.
Immediately our young heroine, who has come out west to seek a career as a singer, has her bag stolen, leaving her with just $17 dollars. But wait! A young man suddenly shows up (played by Diego Boneta, who also resembles a Disney movie alum) and offers to get her a job as a waitress at the Bourbon Room (read Whiskey A Go Go) where he works as a dishwasher. He’s a wannabe singer/songwriter. She’s a singer. It’s a match made in heaven, or at least at curbside.
“Rock of Ages” is set in the 1980s, the golden age of the hair bands. Alec Baldwin plays the beleagured and broke owner of the Bourbon Room. Russell Brand plays a guy who works at the club and eventually, in strange twist, becomes Baldwin’s lover.
Tom Cruise is way over the top as drugged out and drunk rock God Stacee Jaxx, who’s about to perform at the Bourbon Room. Paul Giamatti plays Cruise’s manager and chief apologist. Catherine Zeta-Jones appears as the wife of the Mayor of LA who’s out to rid the city of the evil musical trend.
“Rock of Ages” is the stangest movie musical I’ve ever seen. What saves it from being totally ridiculous is the vintage rock n’ roll score that eventually becomes fun to take in after you’ve endured this lame effort for a while.
But it’s a long wait for the fun.