Monday, June 25, 2012

This Weekend's Movies: ROCK OF AGES and BRAVE

Rock of Ages

I am a child of the hair metal generation. I don't claim that the music was "important," in a blanket sense, although some of it absolutely was, but I do think it was well-played and well produced. I also claim, for the most part, the movement was as aware of it's place in the realm of entertainment as, say Katy Perry is. What I continue to find endearing about acts like Def Leppard or Motley Crue is that they understood that, ultimately, their job was to give listeners and concertgoers a good time.

Part of my resistance to the grunge thing, and, frankly, I enjoy much of the music of that era far less than the aquanetted 80's, was they they just took themselves so damn seriously. Some bands moved beyond it, but I don't think Pearl Jam (who I really like) would still be around and popular if they continued acting like what they were doing was SO. DAMN. IMPORTANT.

It's not. Be it Pour Some Sugar On Me or Smells Like Teen Spirit, it's all 3 minute pop songwriting. It's dumb, any way you slice it.

Now, on the good side, Rock Of Ages embraces that sense of fun. On the bad side, outside of Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, there's really not much else worth seeing here. It's a truly awful, awful movie. The painful thing is you can see something worthwhile in there.

Adam Shankman's idea of The Sunset Strip in 1987 seems to have emerged wholly from watching people play Guitar Hero. His main qualifications for making this film are about having worked on musicals. Rock Of Ages didn't need a musical director, it needed somebody who understood what was happening in LA at the time. It needed Penelope Spheeris (The Decline of Western Civilization, Part 2: The Metal Years, Wayne's World), or even Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Fast Times at Ridgemont High). It didn't need somebody who'd cast Diego Boneta, who's voice is far, far, far too legit to sing anything in this movie (his take of Twisted Sister's I Wanna Rock is beyond cringe-worthy), and who's version of "looking rock and roll" is a less-threatening Jonas Brother.

The only saving grace here is in the supporting cast. Cruise really is kind of amazing, a truly off-the-wall turn, and a testament of taking an actor and training them to sing what's needed. He knew he was singing rock, so that's what he did, and if you think his Pour Some Sugar On Me sounds a bit like an overly studio creation...well, I just think you need to re-listen to the original, which is the same thing.


I'm sort of befuddled by the critical reaction to this film. It's been sort of the "yeah it's good....but..." Which is really not fair to the film. Personally, I found this film in the upper ranks of PIXAR releases. I liked it MUCH better than Finding Nemo, but it doesn't touch my beloved The Incredibles.

The film does stray further into the Disney "standard" fairy-tale mode than any other PIXAR film has. There were some choices made about the Queen, and her performance, in the second half of the film that I think might've been more powerful if played far more realistic. That, however, is a matter of taste. The film is magical and exquisitely made. You can't say it's "bad," it's ridiculous to even hedge in that direction.

PIXAR is almost review-proof now. You're going to see this, child, adult, whatever. We all have built up such a tremendous well of belief in what PIXAR does that you simply have to see what they've done this time.

It think it's wonderful. I was in tears during the final moments. It's so good I don't even want to give any of it away, so excuse the briefness of the review.

I can't ask for anything more.

And the short before the film is wonderful, too.

1 comment:

  1. My son has been asking to go to see "Brave" which I thought was odd because the main character is female. But, as you say, it's a Pixar movie and even an 8 year old boy knows it should be good!
    As for "Rock of Ages", I'm on the fence about this one. I don't have a great dislike for Musical Theatre like yourself. But, I find it disheartening that they have gone to the hits of the past to give the show it's musical backbone. I felt the same way when I first heard the soundtrack for "Moulin Rouge". After I saw that one, I actually enjoyed it. I would say the same about the Beatles based musical "Across the Universe". I was really hesitant about that one. When the characters are named "Jude" and "Lucy". But, after I rented it, I really enjoyed it and own a DVD copy too. But, "Rock of Ages" seems like it's 1987 Glam Metal for the Glee audience. So, maybe not!