‘Rock of Ages’ goes over the top, but still under-performs

Tom Cruise in ‘Rock of Ages.’ Rated PG-13, 123 min. Warner Bros. Pictures, 2012.

Rather than delivering on its party-all-night message, “Rock of Ages” is actually a bland musical with very little attitude. In fact, most of it is downright cheesy: campy, ridiculous, “Grease”-level cheesy.

Adapted from the Broadway “jukebox musical” that weaves together 1980s rock hits with a few weak plots, the movie is a series of music videos that runs on an overdose of nostalgia. It reveres its source material, while at the same time mocking the era, creating a confusing tonal mixture of love and parody.

Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and Drew (Diego Boneta) struggle with a relationship while both trying to become stars. The young actors carry out their subplot in such a straight-faced way that it’s only when Tom Cruise comes on the scene as superstar Stacee Jaxx that you realize this is, in fact, a comedy. He throws his all into the bizarre, intense, self-aggrandizing singer – and can really sing.

Meanwhile, Catherine Zeta-Jones crusades against the rock scene, and Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand play club owners who sing a hilarious duet to “Can’t Fight This Feeling.”

The music is all familiar, but so are the clichéd stories. It’s too bad Cruise’s crazed commitment isn’t spread around.

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