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Rock of Ages: movie review (+trailer)

'Rock of Ages' struggles with tone and two bland leads.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / June 14, 2012

'Rock of Ages' stars Julianne Hough (l.) and Diego Boneta (r.) are both bland in their roles of small-town girl and boy band member.

David James/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP

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The hard-rock, heavy-metal retro musical “Rock of Ages” might seem like a movie natural, but Adam Shankman (whose “Hairspray” was a delight) never locates the right tone. You can’t blame him exactly. However you play up this material – as camp, melodrama, anthem, or goof – it sags under the weight of its lightweight pretensions.

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Set in 1987, it features two leads of surpassing blandness, Julianne Hough’s Sherrie, newly arrived from Tulsa, Okla., to make it in Hollywood as a singer, and Diego Boneta’s Drew, an aspiring rocker who, all too fittingly, ends up in a boy band. (We’re supposed to think he deserves better.) What little scenery there is to steal is pilfered by Alec Baldwin as a Sunset Strip rock club owner and Tom Cruise as the strung-out rock idol Stacee Jaxx. Cruise is always at his best when he’s playing against type (in this case, against his own movie-star glam image). Paul Giamatti, as Jaxx’s sleazoid manager, does his utmost to give a real performance amid all the retro ridiculousness.

Warning: If you have an allergic reaction to songs like “Take Me Home Tonight” and “I Want to Know What Love Is,” do not venture within 10 miles of this movie. Grade: C (Rated PG-13 for sexual content, suggestive dancing, some heavy drinking, and language.)

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