When it comes to music, films, TV etc (entertainment in general I guess) I’m a rather odd specimen of a man – enjoying an eclectic mix of styles, genres, eras and volumes! I can watch everything from sci-fi blasts to detective dramas, comedies to quizzes, debates to debacles. I listen to music from so many eras covering pop, rock, dance, jazz, classical, electronic, metal, worship, atmospheric and more. In fact the only music I can’t appreciate is manufactured plastic rubbish that you know doesn’t mean anything to the person singing it.
One era and style I do particularly love is 80s Rock. I grew up listening to Bon Jovi, Whitesnake, Meatloaf and more and still love ramping up the volume to scream out the lyrics to some of the classic anthems from that time.
So when we saw an interview with Justin Lee Collins and Shane Ward on BBC breakfast talking about the West End musical “Rock of Ages” I immediately knew that this was something I *have* to go and see.
We’ve not made it to London (yet – it’s planned for sometime in the future though!) but when a film version was released my curiosity was definitely piqued.
Last weekend my wonderful wife, who has impeccable taste it must be said, chose for us to see the film when we had a chance to escape the kids for a day and grab a couple of hours in the midst of all the house hassles.
All I can say is WHAT A BLAST!
Now I’ll get the potentially offensive stuff out of the way first – although everything in this film is done to maximise the cheese factor and it’s all done in a humorous manner. The film definitely isn’t one for the kids, despite the 12A rating. There is a bit of bad language but there is a lot of suggestive and sexual innuendo in the film. Part of it is set in a “Gentlemans” club and features pole-dancers, there is a scene that involves strongly implied sex and there are other bits. BUT – none of it made me feel uncomfortable and it is all played for laughs.
That aside (and, as I say, it didn’t bother me at all) the film is a great romp from beginning to end. The storyline is a cheesy cliche wrapped up in a fairytale sugary syrup – girl meets boy and all the typical journey that tends to follow in those storylines. Think Grease or Dirty Dancing, set in the 80s scene with blue denim or black leather trousers and black T-shirts. You’re not getting a story that will change your life forever and that will bring about world peace to sound of whale song. You are getting a joy-filled, hugely funny, musically superb couple of hours that entertain and leave you with a huge smile on your face for days to come.
The music in the film, as with the storyline, differs slightly (and also significantly in parts) to the stage show but contains so many classics from that time including everything from Journey to Poison, Def Leppard to Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar to Styx and so many others and some of the mash-ups in the film are pure genius! By the end of the film there wasn’t a foot that wasn’t tapping, a head that wasn’t nodding and there weren’t many people who weren’t singing along.
The casting was probably the biggest surprise. Tom Cruises involvement had me a bit concerned, and the Mrs and I both raised eyebrows when the opening credits rolled and we saw Russell Brands name (not the biggest fans, but his involvement was a no-brainer really), however the whole cast are brilliant totally embracing the ham-it-up nature of the film and throwing themselves into their roles completely. The two stars of the show are newcomers and manage to stand their own ground surrounded by Cruise, Brand, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones and others. What has been a huge surprise is the discovery that the actors all sing their own parts (they obviously did this seperate to the filming as you can tell they are miming at points, but they did record the vocals they are miming to!) and that includes Tom Cruise who manages to do a great version of “Paradise City” and “Wanted Dead or Alive”.
The film has so many highlights in it that I can’t do it justice to just pick a few. The funniest moment of all though has to be the scene between Brand and Baldwin – I am never going to be able to listen to the song they sing again without thinking of the film (I’ll say no more as I really do not want to spoil it for anyone!)
If you have a decent sense of humour, and don’t get easily offended, and you love the 80s then you really have GOT to see this film. It’s only made me even more desperate to see the stage show, and we’ve already said that we’ll be getting the Blu-Ray when it comes out!
And if you want to enjoy the original versions of the songs used in the film and the stage versions you can subscribe to my Spotify playlist – to which I may well add a few additional Eighties classics that didn’t quite make it into the show but definitely deserve a place there. Saying that, if all the classics were to be included in the film and the stage show you would be there for days!
The Spotify playlist can be found here: http://open.spotify.com/user/geekyone/playlist/0aAPSQsTp3jDpWt3iwYedo