Rock of Ages was Horribad & Awesome

So, Pet and I went to see Rock of Ages. I’m guessing you’ve heard of it: mid 80s nostalgia movie based on a musical. If you haven’t, here’s the trailer.

Pet and I both love 80s music, but we’re both too young to really remember the 80s. I remember some things, like side ponytails, Michael Jackson, the Challenger disaster, legwarmers, the DeLorean, the original NES, and scratch n sniff stickers. Pet doesn’t remember anything. I guess that has something to do with the age gap between us.

We made a bet before we went inside on what trailers we’d see. I was betting for a drama, a chick flick, and the rest would be action movies. We got: a chick flick (male stripper wanting to be an entrepreneur), The Great Gatsby, an all female Glee knockoff, and a couple of heartwarming tearjerkers about parents doing whatever it takes to help their kids. One about poor kids, and one about a kid with leaves on his legs. Okay, so I fail at trailer guessing.

And here’s where the movie starts. If you’re looking for a good rundown, explaining everything in detail, go to Wikipedia. Pet and I were not very kind to this movie. It’s a good thing the theatre wasn’t packed. This turned out to be way longer than I expected, so if you don’t want to read a rundown of the entire movie, with intermittent snarky comments, I understand. There is video to help you through it.

The movie starts, and it’s Sherrie, the blonde and beautiful Julianne Hough. She starts singing Night Ranger’s Sister Christian, which is a song I hear on the local classic rock station at least twice a day. The entire bus starts singing along, there’s a travel montage, and then she’s getting off the bus in Los Angeles. Being a musical, she’s singing again, and it’s tied into another song, sung by a guy named Drew, who happens to be Diego Boneta. I’ve never heard of this guy, but he’s kind of cute. So, cut back and forth between Sherrie and Drew, singing about their dreams. She passes in front of the Million Moms, all 15 of them, which are the closest thing to the villains in the entire movie.

Then, Sherrie gets her suitcase stolen.  Oh noes! Nevermind the fact it’s everything of importance to her, and she was swinging it around like it’s empty. Wait, it probably was empty. Anyway, Drew tries to catch the dude that takes off with her suitcase, and fails. Being the nice guy, he instead introduces himself and helps secure her a job at the Bourbon Room, which is probably a stand n for the Whiskey. Of course, before she’s hired as a waitress at the Bourbon Room, Alec Baldwin (when did he get old?) correctly clues in to why she’s come to L.A. Sang in the church choir, dated a jock, starred in the school musical, was told she should come to LA to be a singer. Can we say jaded much?

Sherrie and Drew spend time in a Tower Records,and we get my favorite mash up of the movie: Jukebox Hero and I love Rock N Roll. Jukebox Hero is performed by Sherrie and Drew in the Tower Records, which conveniently have 80s rock staples roaming the aisles, including the blond in black leather and a dark clothed Madonna lookalike. While they’re rocking out, Alec Baldwin and Russel Brand are singing I Love Rock N Roll in the back room of the Bourbon Room. Their ending is…. awkward. Remember this.

Hey! here’s a clip of exactly what I just wrote about. first 40 seconds are the actors talking.

Moving on, Drew asks Sherrie out on a date, which she says yes. Then I get confused, so the next bit might be out of order.

Alec Baldwin and Russel Brand (so called because I forget their names) commiserate on rock n roll not being like it was. So, Alec Baldwin calls up Gill, who’s Stacee Jaxx’s agent. Gill assures Alec Baldwin that everything is good for Arsenal’s last performance at the Bourbon Room later that week. Cut to Gill doing the usually “Who loves ya babe, I’d never lie to you” bullshit that’s associated with agents, and then he goes in to wake up Stacee Jaxx so he can go on stage and perform.

If you have any brain bleach, I suggest sneaking it into the theatre, because you’re going to need it for the next scene. Gill goes into the dressing room, and all you see are many beautiful women in a pile. One by one, they peel away, and we’re left with Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, in a horrible wig. He murmurs the immortal line “I didn’t know you were a twin” to Gill, who tries to encourage him to get up and go perform. We get it, he’s so drunk he can’t see straight.

But it gets better. He’s wearing a glittery metal codpiece, so the first shot you get, is tom Cruise’s Junk in a metal codpiece.

Ugh.

Then he stands up, and you get Tom Cruise’s ass.

Double Ugh.

At that point I was cringing, and was rewarded for forgetting the brain bleach by watching his character fall, face first, into a pool. That made me lol.

Then, we cut to mayor Whitmore (the dad off Malcom in the Middle) who’s recently been elected, and is holding a press conference. Instead of speaking, he turns his wife, Catherine Zeta Jones, loose with the camera and microphone. She then declares was on sex, drug, and rock n roll. You’ve seen the trailer, you knew it was coming. We don’t know why she has an axe to grind, but man, she’s setting it loose on Los Angeles. once she hears that Stacee Jaxx, and Arsenal, are performing their last show together at the bourbon room, that axe grinding is like a laser guided missile.

So, Catherine Zeta Jones (and when is it playing anyone but Catherine Zeta Jones?) musters the Million Moms. And, much like the real life Million Moms, the numbers lie. Her entourage is about 15. She musters concerned mothers from PTAs, and church groups, and performs a particularly stiff dancing number to Hit Me With Your Best Shot in a church.

Want to see a clip of Hit Me With Your Best Shot?

Okay, so now we have the plot set up, maybe: 2 young singing hopefuls meeting up in LA, an old rocker running a bar and reliving his glory days, an aging, out of control rock star, and a woman with an axe to grind. I think that’s set up enough so we can see what’s going on. You can probably write it from here.

Drew and Sherrie go on dates, sing 80s rock ballads, and drew even writes a song about her. It sounds suspiciously like Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. I’m really confused about their first date, Sherrie’s suitcase is stolen, and she has $17 to her name, but somehow she comes up with a change of clothes between the first and second days. When I pointed this out to Pet, she told me to leave the fridge logic behind. They’re so in love, and everything is perfect.

Then the day of the Arsenal Concert arrives. The opening act ends up in jail, so Alec Baldwin needs a new opening act. Sherrie suggests Drew’s band, pointing out no one ever notices the opening act anyway. Baldin agrees, and Drew gets the band together (fellow employees of the Bourbon Room). You know that line in the trailer, where Alec Baldwin goes “You should start drinking… .now”? That’s where this line comes in. The trailer is cut together in a really weird way, because half of the lines are taken out of actual context, but in the end, it all makes sense. Whoever made the trailer was either on crack, or a genius.

So, enter Stacee Jaxx, arriving at the Bourbon Room for his last performance in the band Arsenal. You meet Hey Man, his monkey, and watch Sherrie faint. Then Jaxx goes in to the dressing room, where Gill has set up an interview with a reporter from Rolling Stone. Jaxx mistakes Rolling Stone for The Rolling Stones, and wonders where Mick is. As you do when you’re drunk off your ass.

The reporter for Rolling Stone is names Constance, and she’s about as out of place as it gets. She’s rocking some naught catholic school girl ensemble, pink checked skirt, white blouse buttoned all the way up, ascot, and cute little animal print glasses. She’s also terribly nervous. You’d think if she was a reporter for Rolling Stone, she’d be used to famous musicians. Sure, you could argue that she might be new, but why give the new girl the prestigue of interviewing Stacee Jaxx? Anyway, it’s a fridge logic moment. My major gripe with her is that she looks so much like Sherrie that I wondered if they were going to do the mistaken identity trope.

She interviews Jaxx, who claims he’s more that everyone sees, and he knows himself best because he lives in himself. Then he seduces Constance. Well, almost, he gets her down to granny panties and a no nonsense bra, and she’s on top of him when she realizes it’s a mistake. So, she gathers up her clothes, and leaves. And no one out in the hall thinks it’s odd that the Rolling Stone reporter is walking down the hall in her underwear. Well, maybe they got that part right.

So, now comes the first real conflict of the movie: Jaxx had run into Shrrie earlier, and asked her to go get a bottle of booze from the limo. Right after Constance leaves, she arrives with it, but drops it, and it shatters. He walks her out of the dressing room, and Drew happens to be in the hall. Of course, to add drama, he interprets it as her sleeping with Jaxx.

Fast forward to the show, where Drew and his band, the unfortunately named Wolfgang Von Colt, take the stage, performing Twister sister’s I Wanna Rock, and rocking the house. Sherrie meets up with him after his set, gushing about how good he is, and he treats her like shit. They break up, she runs away, and Drew is sidetracked by Gill, who offers him fame. Sherrie quits the Bourbon, and then Drew does as well.

Diego Boneta can really sing. Here’s I Wanna Rock

 

The show rakes in about $31000, which is enough to get the Bourbon out of some unnamed trouble, but Gill takes it all, claiming it’s their agreement.

Sherrie, who’s without a job now, ends up at The Venus Cafe, which is a Gentleman’s club.  Mary J Blige hires her as a waitress, and she dresses in this ugly Grecian dress and delivers cocktails, and gets her ass slapped. Cut to a series of scenes showing her getting paid in singles, and the stripped being paid in 20s and hundreds by Blige. And here is where I noticed something important: Sherrie’s Cleavage changes depending on how things are going for her. When she gets off the bus, goes on dates, and works at the Bourbon Room, she has great cleavage. When she struggles to find a job, and works at the Venus club, she has almost no cleavage.

Somewhere in here, we learn that the Bourbon Room hasn’t paid taxes in almost a year, information courtesy of axe to grind Catherine Zeta Jones. Wondered when she’d show again. We also learn why she hates Stacee Jaxx: her “friend Viviane” was a groupie of Arsenal’s back in the day, and had a one night stand with Jaxx. So now we know why she’s homed in on Arsenal. The Bourbon Room is just collateral damage, although if it closes, she thinks most of the other less than savory places will close too.

While Sherrie’s struggling, Drew signs with the record company, and Gill pitches him to the various record companies. Wolfgang von Colt isn’t going to sell, because everyone’s convinced rock is on it’s way out. So Drew gets roped into a Boy Band, much like New Kids On The Block, and hates it. He blows up to Gill, who tells him he’ll only make it big this way, and he’s going to have this boy band open for Stacee Jaxx at the Bourbon Room.

To add levity in the otherwise dark moments, we have the most ridiculous scene in the film: Alec Baldwin and Russel Brand admitting they’re in love with each other, through Journey’s I Can’t Fight This Feeling. I’m glad the theatre was mostly empty, because Pet and I laughed until we couldn’t breathe. Remember that awkward moment before? Rectified here. Then they get the call from Gill, that Stacee Jaxx is going to perform at the Bourbon Room that night as a favor to Alec Baldwin.

Interlude over, we learn that Sherrie can’t make ends meet on her waitress tips, and so Mary J Blige tells her the only way to command any respect, and make any money, is to go on stage and strip. So, all those scenes of beautiful women with high heels on stage in the theatre? They’re strippers, not singers. And any scene in the trailer with a black woman talking about the stage, she means the stage in the strip club. Again, trailer genius and fuckery. So Sherrie becomes a stripper. And the strippers in this club seem to spend most of their time with all their clothes on, hanging off poles.

Here, see for yourself. This is part movie, part trailer, but you’ll get the point.

 

Post stripper decision, Sherrie decides to go home to Tulsa, Oklahoma. She visits the Hollywood sign one last time, and runs into Drew. Since we’re running out of movie, she gets a chance to explain she never slept with Stacee Jaxx, and Drew had it all wrong.  Then she leaves, and Drew ends up at Tower records, where he sees all of Sherrie’s stolen records, which the thief had sold. He buys them and has them sent to her at The Venus Club.

Meanwhile, Gill is trying to convince Stacee Jaxx that he needs to perform at the Bourbon Room. TheRolling Stone interview has come out, and it’s not all that favorable. Jaxx is in Gill’s office, and he’s let Hey Man trash the place. Jaxx makes Gill read part of the article where it points out that Gill took the money from the Bourbon Room. Jaxx gets Gill to admit that he did it, and then fires him. Later Jaxx, calls up Rolling Stone in search of Constance. A poor intern takes the call, and there’s a genuinely funny moment where he says something to the effect of “Yeah, this isn’t creepy at all.”

Jaxx finds out that Constance is at the Bourbon Room, waiting to cover the show he doesn’t know he’s doing. He rides up on a motorcycle in front of the Bourbon Room, and sees Catherine Zeta Jones. He recognizes her, and says something about her tits holding up well. The Million Moms and the rockers have a mash up sing off to We’re Not Going to Take It (Million Moms) and We Built This City (rockers). Here, watch.

While they’re singing, Russel Brand realizes he recognizes her, and goes and grabs his Arsenal: Live At the Bourbon Room record, which shows a younger Zeta Jones as a groupie on the inside of the Album. He shows it to the reporter, who puts it on television. Mortified, Catherine Zeta Jones loses all her support, and everyone backs away in horror.

Meanwhile, in the Bourbon Room, Jaxx meets up with Constance, and in his own way, professes love for her. Then they have sex in the bathroom, prompting the scene in the trailer wheee condoms rain out of a machine. While they’re busy, his security guards return the stolen money to Alec Baldin, providing him with a way to pay his back taxes.

Drew is forced to take the stage with his boy band group, which is getting booed off hte stage. Well what do you expect, they’re for the pre-teen age demographic (it’s even stated) in a fucking bar of drunks waiting for Stacee Jaxx? It would be like waiting for Aerosmith to take the stage and getting Justin Beiber instead. Sherrie saves the day, by showing up. Super cleavage fixes all?

Drew reunites Wolfgang Von Colt, and they start performing Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, with Sherrie. The audience starts rocking, and in the bathroom, Jaxx hears the song. He pretty much drops Constance, and heads out to listen to the band.

Cut to the happy ending! Arsenal is back together, playing a crowded house, Stacee Jaxx is performing Don’t Stop Believing, and brings Drew and Sherrie on to perform. In the audience are Mary J Blige, Alec Baldwin, and Russel Brand. Sneaking in late is Cathering Zeta Jones, in her groupie outfit. Oh! and Constance is there, on the side of the stage, very pregnant and waving to Jaxx. So everyone is happily ever after.

And that’s the movie. It’s both horrible and awesome at the same time. I was 15 years too young for it, but I liked it anyway. No one’s trying very hard, which is good, because it’s not the kind of movie that extra effort would save. It’s lighthearted and fun, and worth it for the 80s music.

5 thoughts on “Rock of Ages was Horribad & Awesome

  1. I love 80’s music and most of the actors in this movie so I might have to see it when it hits DVD. Such a good review. Keep at it!

    Sarah Ostenson

    your Follow Me swap partner

    • I recommend watching it when it comes out on DVD, grab a favorite drink and a snack, and settle in. It’s highly entertaining, for all the horrible that can be found in it.

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