Having written extensively about the world of metal and hard rock, I’ve been watching the commercials for Rock of Ages with much bemusement.
”Jukebox musicals,” where you take pre-existing hit songs and craft a show stopper out of them instead of creating an original score, is all the rage right now, especially with the success of Jersey Boys. And although many couldn’t wait for the hair bands to disappear when they were at the height of their power, many who grew up in the 80’s still have tremendous nostalgia for that time, and apparently like the saying goes, everything old is new again.
Many of the reviews for Rock of Ages haven’t been kind, you get the impression it’s a hair band version of Glee, and rock movies very rarely get it right. I still feel This is Spinal Tap is the most accurate movie about metal ever made, and enjoyed Almost Famous when it came out, but many didn’t like the fact that it sugarcoated the ugly realities of the rock and roll life. (You never saw any drugs, you never saw the groupies have sex, and you never saw them sexually humiliated, which road crews throughout history have always reveled in).
Back in the 70’s, there were a lot of rock movies that were big hits at the box office, like Tommy in 1975, and it seems every decade a movie’s tried to lead the rock film revival, like The Doors, Almost Famous, and most recently The Runaways, but none of them brought the genre back in a big way. There’s always the hope that if Rock of Ages is a hit it could put more rock movies in motion, because I’d certainly love to see them come back.
Blabbermouth.net reported that first week sales projections for the soundtrack are at 12-15,000 copies, and if the film’s a hit, it will certainly go through the roof from there. There’s also the hope that like the music itself, Ages will be critic-proof, because metal fans never gave a sh*t about what the rock critics thought about their music in a million years.
Not having seen the play myself, I’m curious to see how all the songs link together and tell the story, the soundtrack begins with Tom Cruise singing Paradise City, and closes with Don’t Stop Believin’. Other 80’s hits Ages includes are Poison’s Nothin’ But a Good Time, Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It, Every Rose Has Its Thorn, and more.
One critic who did enjoy Rock of Ages was Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times, who called it “head-banging fun,” and wrote, “Tom Cruise drives this bawdy, boisterous ode to ’80s rock. So put another dime in the jukebox, baby.”
Like the music itself, Turan feels Ages is “a triumph of genial impudence over good sense and better taste, Rock of Ages is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. Blessed with unstoppable energy, and undeniably bawdy sense of fun and Tom Cruise in backless leather pants, it takes songs you may never have loved and turns them into a musical that’s easy to enjoy.”