Sunday, 3 March 2013

Rock of Ages (2012)

“Now look at him. Married to a woman who looks like she’s been hibernating in Margaret Thatcher’s bumhole.

I think I’ll just drop the obligatory opening sentence about not usually liking musicals when reviewing musicals. It just doesn’t wash any more. Instead I‘ll talk about ‘80s rock, which, being of the Grunge generation, I’ve only come to appreciate since my late twenties (I’m now 35). I love a lot of these songs (much as, like everyone, I now loathe that song by Journey for the usual reasons), and it’s interesting, being a little deaf and a user of subtitles, to learn lyrics to an awful lot of songs.

This is a fairly standard musical love story, plot-wise, but there’s a lot of fun along the way. The music is superb, and I particularly like the mash-ups. Even Tom Cruise can sing a bit, and is actually tolerable enough to justify his casting, bizarre though it is.

There’s a lot of wit and fun along the way, though, much of it in the person of Russell Brand. He gets all the best lines: The reference to “body porridge” had me convulsed with laughter. He’s an odd fit in this film, and it’s surreal to see him of all people in a gay kiss with Alec Baldwin, but he’s the best thing about it. I also have to praise Paul Giamatti (as I always do) for a splendidly hissable turn as the baddie.

The film takes a deliciously ironic look at the rock ‘n’ roll dream, skewering loads of rock clichés while also making it clear that it’s all done with love. Catherine Zeta Jones’ Tipper Gore-like character is made to look as stupid as Gore was in real life in the funniest part of the film, and gets her comeuppance.

There’s one slight niggle, though. I realise that ‘80s hair rock is intrinsically bound up with misogyny and very much a man’s world, but a lot of this is shown here without comment: the bands are all male and Zeta Jones’s character is essentially brought down by being slut-shamed by a man. I realise that this sort of film is hardly the place for lengthy discourses on gender politics, but perhaps the balance is a little too far the other way.

That aside, though, I loooooved this film.

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