Film Review: Rock of Ages

Based on the successful musical, Rock of Ages is a lot of fun. The film’s tone makes it hugely enjoyable.

New in Hollywood, Sherrie dreams of making it as a singer. Drew, a barman at the infamous Bourbon Club, has similar dreams. When Drew gets Cherrie a job at the club, the pair are smitten. Others, however, are more preoccupied with Stacee Jaxx’s upcoming gig…

Set in 1987, Rock of Ages is a homage to 1980s hair metal. Understandably, music of this genre features heavily, so those not keen on it will instantly be put off. The rest of viewers should find Rock of Ages‘ soundtrack entirely appropriate, and fun in a sing-a-long kind of way.

What makes Rock of Ages work well is the tone, which is evident from the very beginning of the film. It is clear from the outset that this musical does not take itself too seriously. There is humour to be found throughout the film, from the hokey dialogue and use of music to some deliberately excessive performances.

In spite of this lightness in atmosphere, there are some more serious themes present in Rock of Ages. Sherrie’s time in Hollywood is not quite the dream that she expected, while Drew struggles with chasing his dream and the reality of the music business. Comment on musical creativity and its relationship with corporate domination is played out unambiguously.

Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta are well cast as leads Sherrie and Drew. It is the supporting cast who overshadow, however. Tom Cruise is fantastic as Stacee Jaxx. Cruise playing a strung-out but seductive rock star probably raises some eyebrows, but his performance is entirely in keeping with the tone of the film. Elsewhere, Alec Baldwin brings the humour, as does Catherine Zeta-Jones. Russell Brand is not quite as amusing, and his patchy accent can be a distraction.

Fans of 1980s music and pop culture should find Rock of Ages immensely entertaining. It is the sort of film that will leave viewers with a smile on their face.

Film Review: Footloose

Another day, another remake of a 1980s film. Craig Brewer’s Footloose is a respectful remake of the 1984 dance favourite, and a film that entertains just as it should.

Ren McCormick moves from Boston to Bomont, a small town in Georgia, to live with his uncle. Ren is a bit of a fish out of water, and is perplexed by the town’s unusual rules which ban public dancing. After five students were killed in a road accident, strict rules were brought in to protect the town’s teenagers. Ren, however, is determined to show his new friends in Bomont what they are missing…

Footloose is fun piece of entertaining fluff. It is not in the least bit taxing, and is a slice of escapism. The narrative is run of the mill, but the film provides enough amusement to make up for this. Footloose provides a good mix of humour, drama, and of course dancing.

Footloose is similar to this summer’s Fright Night remake in that it pays homage to the original. In its choice of music and the styling of protagonist Ren, Footloose acknowledges its antecedent. Unlike Fright Night however, Footloose‘s narrative sticks pretty close to the original. The minor changes in the film are really to update it for the twenty-first century more than anything else.

Given the film’s themes, music is of course pivotal. The filmmakers made a wide choice not to remix or alter two of the original film’s most memorable songs – Deniece Williams’ ‘Let’s Hear It for the Boy’ and of course the Footloose theme by Kenny Loggins. These tracks act as linchpins for both the original film and the remake. The soundtrack does include other songs which update the film to its modern-day setting.

The dance sequences are well choreographed in the film. Footloose features a range of dance styles. It seems unlikely that there would be several great breakdancers in a small town, but then again this is a film about a town that has banned dancing, so a suspension of disbelief is a prerequisite.

Casting in the film is good. Although not first choice for Ren, Kenny Wormald is a good choice for the lead. His unassuming persona works well. Julianne Hough is a little hammy as Ariel, while Dennis Quaid is given little room to manoeuvre in a rather cheesy role. Miles Teller brings many of the film’s laughs as Willard.

An unnecessary remake it may be, but at least Footloose brings the feel-good factor.