‘Rock of Ages’: How Did It Crumble? (But Don’t Cry For Tom Cruise–He’s Got A Billion Dollars!)
By Liz Smith
June 20, 2012
“F*CK ‘EM if they can’t take a joke.”
Bette Midler immortalized that expression. And Tom Cruise must be muttering it himself this week. Although I had a feeling “Rock of Ages” wasn’t going to be a smash, I did think enough people would appreciate this obvious parody of 1980s music, fashions and attitudes to give it some box-office bang. Apparently not! (It came in a weak third behind “Madagascar 3” and the bewildering sci-fi stunner “Prometheus.” )
“ROA” is “Mamma Mia!” for metal heads–a thin story upon which to base one musical number after another. Of course, “Mamma Mia!” had the previous screen credentials of “Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell” and the more inclusive pop melodies of ABBA, rather than Journey power ballads or the head-banging anthems of Def Leppard and Poison.
And, in time, it had Meryl Streep in the movie! But Tom is hilarious and disturbing as the dissolute rock star. Many reviewers cite him as the best thing in the film. Maybe everybody from the 1980s is dead or committed to asylums. Or, going to Broadway, where the stageÂ version of “Rock of Ages,” is doing brisk business. Why is everybody being so serious about this movie?