Film Review: Rock of Ages
(Warner Brothers) Released: June 2012, Rated: PG-13 (Musical, Comedy, Drama)

Starring: Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Russell Brand, Alex Baldwin, Paul Giamatti, Malin Akerman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Tom Cruise

 Director: Adam Shankman (HAIRSPRAY)

By Cathleen Rockwell

The film takes place in 1987 on the famous Sunset Strip in Hollywood, California and is an adaptation of the 2006 rock jukebox Broadway musical of the same name by Chris D’Arienzo. Sherri Christian (Julianne Hough) is a small-town, naïve young girl who just arrives from the Midwest by bus to pursue her dream of becoming a singer.  Upon arrival, she discovers that her suitcase and belongings have been stolen and realizes her journey isn’t going to be easy. When singer Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) sees a young girl in trouble, he quickly comes to her rescue. They discover that they both have the same dreams, which make them strong allies and eventually a couple.

Drew works at the famous Bourbon Room and gets Sherrie a job as a waitress The bar’s owner, Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) and his best friend and technician at the club is the clever and funny Lonny (Russell Brand).  These two music and club veterans are worried about the bar’s financial problems and decide to take a chance and book Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise-who does his own singing in the film) — a washed up rock thunder God that men want to be like and women want to be seduced by. The Bourbon Room is where Jaxx and his band Arsenal got their start.


Rolling Stone reporter Constance Sack (Malin Akerman) comes to the Bourbon Room to interview Jaxx who is immediately taken in with her independence and boldness, and she’s probably the first woman to refuse him. Paul Gill, Jaxx’s sleazy manager (Paul Giamatti) is the creator of the monster that Jaxx has turned out to be. They have a rocky relationship and Paul gets more frustrated as he continues to lose control over Jaxx.

As when there is rock music there is always controversy, enter religious conservative and mayor’s wife, Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones). She is determined to shut down the Bourbon Room as rock/metal music is the moral decline of humanity and all civilization. Grammy Award winning Mary J. Blige also appears as Justice Charlier, the owner of a local strip venue called “The Venus Club.”

Music fans from the 1980s will notice several cameo appearances from well-known artists of that era. The soundtrack includes familiar songs from rock icons: Def Leppard, Twisted Sister, Journey, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon and more. The film is a fun and entertaining flash back to big hair band days, the legendary Sunset Strip L.A. rock scene and impeccable singing and dancing. Baldwin and Brand provide hilarious buddy banter and Cruise nailed it as an arrogant, eccentric and dramatic lead singer

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Cathy Rockwell is currently pursuing her second Master’s Degree — this one in Homeland Security. She earned her first Master of Arts Degree in writing in 2011. She has been a freelance writer for the Gainesville Examiner and INsite Magazine, covering movies, concerts, album reviews and the theater. She’s has also worked as an event planner and in the music business doing various jobs in New England and California. Her passion has always been music of all types. She listens to everything from Beethoven to the Rolling Stones. She’s attended concerts since she was 13 years old and is a supporter local musicians.

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