During a spell of economic hardship there’s no better way to forget the harsh realities of 2012 – if only for two hours – and drift back to a time of wild excess soundtracked by a slew of chartbusting anthems.
And if the prospect of watching a bare-chested Tom Cruise play Stacee Jaxx – an increasingly reclusive rock god modelled on Axl Rose – leaves you feeling just a little bit ill then forget any tired preconceptions.
The pint-sized Hollywood A-lister plays an absolute blinder as he blasts through Pour Some Sugar On Me, Don’t Stop Believin’ and Wanted Dead Or Alive like he was always born to be Jon Bon Jovi’s little brother.
Essentially an opportunity to cram in as many memorable MTV hits as possible (it’s like a classic edition of Headbanger’s Ball), Rock Of Ages won’t win any prizes for original scriptwriting. The plot is thinner than Poison’s back catalogue but its predictability makes a fantastic film even more endearing.
Centred around The Bourbon Room – think the Whisky A Go-Go in steep decline – Cruise’s supporting cast are as likeable as the upbeat soundtrack. If watching Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin enjoy a long overdue bromance won’t be everyone’s cup of tea then the former is surprisingly believable as a flaky Brit abroad.
Wannabe rockers Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) and Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) ooze late adolescent sex appeal and their Hollywood dreams mirror many a fresh-faced youth hitting the Sunset Strip a quarter of a century ago.
There’s just the right amount of cheese, sleaze and extortionate management fees to give Rock Of Ages the feel of a docu-drama. Anyone who experienced the hair metal scene and lived to tell the tale will love the attention to detail where the creation of utterly believable and often loathsome characters is concerned.
Everyone else will simply love the songs. And what’s not to love about the best of Leppard, Whitesnake, Extreme, Journey, Joan Jett and even Skid Row – Sebastian Bach’s dulcet tones are immediately recognisable right from the outset as I Remember You is piped out over the Tower Records sound system. And if you don’t remember the former Skid Row frontman (he sang the same song at Download last weekend) then he’s the big lad with long blond hair who makes a couple of brief cameo appearances alongside Extreme’s Nuno Bettencourt.
Rock Of Ages is like Anvil with bells on and Spinal Tap given a slick 21st century makeover. It’s heart-warming, hugely entertaining and features Catherine Zeta-Jones as a former groupie turned God squad leader. If that’s not enough to tempt you into the nearest multiplex then nothing will. Oh, and then there’s the songs…