In 1983, Tom Cruise played a Chicago suburban teenager named Joel Goodsen which featured him playing an air guitar and dancing across the screen in his tidy whities to the tune of Bob Seegers' Old Time Rock and Roll. It was a classic scene that is forever imprinted on our memories.


Since then, Cruise has played many over-the-top characters, in a sense channeling that Rock-n-Roll character. But he simply channeled that character. Until sometime after "Hairspray" was released by his pal Adam Shankman, did he get the notion of being in a musical.


Whaddaya know, Shankman winds up with the script to the film adaptation of the stage production of Rock of Ages and... who do you thinks Shankman calls to play the lead rocker Stacee Jaxx - Cruise. This part actually wasn't the bad idea.

In fact, that may actually be the best thing Shankman did! Though I'm not a big Cruise fan, I will admit he is best cast as an over-the-top character. Remember his bit part in "Tropical Thunder"?


In "Rock of Ages" Cruise is joined by Julianne Hough - straight from "Footloose", "Burlesque" and Dancing With the Stars - playing Sherrie Christian, a Oklahoman seeking her chance at fame and fortune in L.A.


Just so you know what you'll have to sit through for two hours, the film opens with her singing with the rest of the Greyhound Bus passengers.


Upon her arrival in L.A., she is immediately robbed of all her belongings which included he vast vinyl collection (the film is set in the 1980s around the same time as "Risky Business"). A bit late to her rescue comes Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) a bar-back at an infamous hard rock club called the Bourbon Room. He offers to get her a job there and she agrees.

Just like in "Burlesque" she takes ajob as a waitress, though she longs to be on stage to sing. But the owner Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) won't hear of it. He's got other things on his mind (stop me if you remember this plot from "Burlesque"), the club is in the hole and someone is out to take over his spot! That someone is the mayor's Holy roller wife Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta Jones); and she doesn't like anything rock-n-roll. Wait, doesn't this sound vaguely like "Footloose"?


But things are looking up for the Bourbon because big-time rocker Stacee Jaxx is giving a final performance with his band before he goes solo. That money will easily clear the Bourbon Room.


Jaxx is managed by a seedy agent (natch) played by Paul Giamatti.


Meanwhile Sherrie and Drew fall for each other (again - natch) as they dream up how great their lives will be once they become stars. [Note: suddenly Sherrie has bathing suits, clothes and lots of possessions - even though she was robbed a couple of minutes ago!]

In between this less than imaginative narrative is lots of singing and some dancing. Even Mary J Blidge joins in ince she is the owner of a burlesque... I mean strip club! I thought it odd that she is the only professes singer in the cast yet she has only one song!


It's when Paul Giamatti sang when I nearly got up to leave. Yes, this is not stars lip-syncing to classic rock songs, they are singing the songs. Uh, yes Alec Baldwin, Russel Brand (who comes off well), Zeta-Jones and everyone except Bryan Cranston - but he gets spanked by his mistress while in his tidy whities.


The singing actually isn't the worst part - okay, yes Giamatti's singing was - the story is so contrived that it cured me of the urge to see it on stage. Uh, the stage production is

touring the states. I'll pass. Ironically, however, Cruise comes off well in his rock idol character. He's actually the only one who acts like he prepared for his part! The rest are just in it and Shankman doesn't have a clue.


"Rock of Ages" only redeeming feature is the soundtrack which has been juice to make the actors sound less awful. It would be bearable only if you can keep your eyes close for two hours too long it runs.   -- GEOFF BURTON