Five Reasons Rock of Ages Is Even Worse Than You Think
Y'know what's no longer funny? Sassy monkey antics. Maybe back in the black-and-white days before Jane Goodall showed up and reminded us that animals have feelings, the "primates: they're just like us!" bit was fresh and original. But even if you don't give a flinging poo about the well-being of the animals, you've gotta agree that the joke is over. Tom Cruise's monkey, named Hey Man, is forced to run through the all the stereotypes: wearing people clothes, giving humans attitude, and baring his teeth in a "smile" to show just how precocious he is. Why are we still laughing at this, people? It's the animal version of "...and boy, are my arms tired!"
|Photo by David James|
For a movie that satirizes mainstream Christianity's aversion to sex, Rock of Ages has some seriously conservative undertones. You've probably read by now that Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand share a kiss in the film. We don't want to give away any spoilers, so we'll just say that it's treated with the same progressive attitude that brought you I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. The scene immediately following features a musical number promoting a stripping career as female empowerment, which is an issue way too complicated for a shiny, one-dimensional movie like Rock of Ages to even attempt to address in an unoffensive manner. (And, of course, by the film's end we've learned that a career as a stripper is just one rung above a career as a boy band member on the respectability ladder.) The strip club, by the way, is just about the only place you'll find any black actors in the movie; Mary J. Blige plays Justice Charlier, the madame in charge. We get that '80s hair metal was a predominantly white phenomenon, but a major motion picture casting its only prominent black actor in the ghetto -- literally, the strip club is in the ghetto -- still doesn't seem very rock 'n roll.
|Photo by David James|
No, really. His take on the strung-out, egomaniacal rocker stereotype is surprisingly original and entertaining. But it's not like he has much to compete with. Watching the lead couple, Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, fall in love is like watching two puppies playing: They're all adorable and wide-eyed, awkwardly falling all over each other, until one of them nips the other a little too hard. Then they stagger around for the better part of the film, wimpering and pathetic. And even worse, singing. Catherine Zeta-Jones, as the church lady who just needs a good lay, has crazy eyes for the entire film, which would be funny if it weren't so frighteningly severe and manic. And then there's Baldwin and Brand, whose phoned-in performances border on disdain for the entire project.
Not that we can blame them. Rock of Ages wasn't setting out to be high art. It was setting out to be brainless, happy, shiny, fun entertainment. But what it turned out to be was a series of music videos featuring some stars you probably recognize, strung together with a yawn-tastic plot and characters who never earn even the tiny amount of ADD-level attention its audiences can offer them.
And you know what? It is going to make so much money.
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