When a small town girl from Oklahoma moves to Hollywood in search of her dreams not everything goes as planned for Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough). When the passengers on a Greyhound bus she is riding into town on breaks out into song I wondered if the movie was going to sway on the side of hokey. Thankfully like the play on Broadway it did not but rather more so in a “Glee” meets “Smash” in a rock and roll fashion kind of way it launches the audience into laughter, song, toe taping, overall enjoyable two hours of pure musical entertainment.
Straight off the bus Sherrie experiences cops, hookers and to top it off a mugging, her own! Enter Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) to the rescue, a cute smile, a nice physique and an offer of a possible job working for Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin) at the Bourbon Room. Apparently the head of the snake on the strip that promotes rock and roll, sex, drugs and alcohol. Not exactly the place to find Christian born families like Mayor Mike Whitmore (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) who by the way are out to cut the head of the snake off and shut down the strip for good. Think New York City and what they turned Times Square into, “It’s a small world after all”.
Well Sherrie is waitressing at the bar and dreams someday it may help launch her own singing career. She falls hard for Drew who happens to be trying to launch his own singing career. Since the Bourbon Room is in hard financial times Dennis and his partner Lonny (Russell Brand), the Laurel and Hardy of the story, have a huge money maker coming to perform for his last time with the group Arsenal. Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) who we get to see quite a bit of in this film, half naked I mean, has enter the room with his trusty side kick, ‘Hey Man’, a monkey and his manager of course, Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti) grant it his moustache enters the room first, you’ll know what I mean when you flashback to the 80’s. Stacee in all his nakedness is about to be interviewed by a straight shooter reporter from Rolling Stone about launching a solo career, Constance Sack (Malin Akerman), a little more than pen to paper takes place. All goes awry though when Drew thinks Sherrie was the one in the room with Stacee but he could have been more wrong, the only thing Stacee did for Sherrie was help her make it through some tough days when her hamster died. Speaking of animals, Hey Man is hysterical but just to put it out there monkeys of any kind do not make good pets, at all! Face on, face off, if you get my drift!
Remember those days in the 80’s when music had meaning? Ok well probably not if you were born in the 80’s but for us baby boomers so to speak we remember in more ways than one. Love on the rocks! Choices must be made of whether to chase love or accept the lonely world of fame. Is fame really that lonely? Doubt it! Sherrie though is going through a hard time as a stripper but Drew has it even worse, he’s been turned into a boy band. So much for Wolfgang Von Cult. One of the best moments is when two members of the cast can’t fight this feeling anymore which leads to a kiss and the proclamation of their love for one another. Might not be who you’re thinking, and drugs may have been involved!
Nice to see a cameo by Constantine Maroulis who plays a Record Executive, known in reality as a contestant from “American Idol” and the Broadway lead from “Rock of Ages”. Rebellion from Stacee, destruction from Hey Man, a movie with a lot of tongue, a story of struggles to survive and the drive to follow your dreams all lead us to remember that every rose has its thorn and every rock band has their groupies, yet through it all don’t stop believing.
This film is entertaining from beginning to end. Grant it the film may not have its classic rock sounds that will blow the roof off the joint but it surely has memorable ones that the cast sings extremely well thanks to studio magic. For some maybe but not all! Everything worked in this film, superb direction, excellent writing, great soundtrack, timely wardrobes but more than anything brilliant casting. Hough is truly a star and the real focus to the story and she really does the role proud. Boneta, pretty much an unknown to me really compliments Hough’s character and the two really do make magic together as do Baldwin and Brand, absolutely witty and hysterical. Zeta-Jones and Cranston are good side lines as well as the rest of the cast including the very talented Giamatti but it is Cruise that really shines letting all his vulnerabilities hang out in more ways than one. Overall this film is a memorable flashback to a time when things were apple pie, Chevrolet and rock and roll, filled with wild controversial moments and experimentations but a time when things really seemed meaningful. Sure to rock all ages this review is written with three and half paws out of four by Jon Patch.