Starting out as a cheesy re-hash of many a Broadway show, with small town girl Julianne Hough on a bus from her small Midwestern town on her way to try to make the big time in L.A (complete with the whole bus singing “Sister Christian”), the movie morphs into a fun celebration of 80’s rock. Not that you have to be a fan of the genre to roll along with the fun.
Tom Cruise shocks even more than he did in “Tropic Thunder”. He is completely believable as an Axl Rose rocker. Just in case you missed the reference to the Guns ‘N Roses lead, Cruise sports two gun tattoos on his ripped abs. He’s more than adequate when it comes to his singing but what makes his performance mesmerizing is his sexuality. He oozes sex. Cruise plays it straight , not campy and it works. Oh, and he shows off his bare butt barely 30 seconds into his performance.
This isn’t a re-hash of the Broadway show. Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character doesn’t even exist in the Broadway version. Her character is a not-too-subtle nod to the often forgotten Tipper Gore 80’s campaign to put warning labels on music dealing with sex or drugs. Yes- long before she was known as the Second Lady, she was the lead spokesmouth for the
The music is smartly used, often mashing up tunes, often using just a taste instead of the entire song. Also so much fun: actors playing against type. Alec Baldwin is hilarious as an aging club owner .His coming out moment with Russell Brand is ridiculously wild.
Paul Giamatti is priceless as the sleazy promoter with the obligatory ponytail. Malin Ackerman is perfect as the buttoned-up reporter whose interview with Cruise’s Stacee Jaxx ends in seduction.
Like the hair and fashion of the 80’s EVERYTHING in this film is over the top singalong fun.