As a connoisseur of ’80s pop culture and all its hair-band-related silliness, I am the target demographic for “Rock of Ages,”the adaptation of the Broadway-musical celebration of cheesy ’80s rock. Actually, I’ll go a step further than that. I am the bull’s-eye itself.
But the second, lengthier trailer for this summer film release — which is filled with all the Journey, hair spray and skin-tight pants one would expect from a hair band musical — I have to acknowledge some concerns. For the record, Tom Cruise — whom we can actually see singing a Bon Jovi song for the first time in this clip — is not one of them.
As I expressed after watching the first “Rock of Ages” teaser, striking the right tone for this movie is going to be a challenge. The musical not only acknowledges its own absurdity; it embraces it and encourages the audience to do the same. But it’s harder to achieve that “we’re all in this fiery pit of Def Leppard-ness together” mind-set in a multiplex than it is in a theater, especially when the multiplex version stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Alec Baldwin.
A few, but not all, of my concerns, based on the new trailer:
— Baldwin’s “I just threw up in my pants” joke, which honestly sounds like it was borrowed from Geoff Peterson, Craig Ferguson’s robot skeletal late-night sidekick.
— Baldwin and Russell Brand’s cover of “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” which, based on the teensy bit we get here, would not prompt anyone to put another dime in any jukebox. To be fair, it’s being played for comedy, but still. . . .
— The overly obvious attempts to convey the wild and crazy scene that was the 1980s.
— The idea that Cruise’s Stacee Jaxx has “given birth to some of rock’s greatest anthems,” as Malin Akerman’s reporter notes, yet he’s shown here singing Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.”
Things about this trailer that give me a shred of hope:
— The notion that Paul Giamatti will give overly intense speeches about the lure of fame.
— Tom Cruise.
Look, we really can’t gauge Cruise’s singing ability from the one “Wanted Dead or Alive” lyric he gets to belt here. The truth is that it doesn’t matter whether Cruise can sing; if he can halfway carry a tune, his vocals easily can be enhanced to make them passable. It’s more about whether he commits to the role and projects a front man’s swagger. Finding out whether he pulls that off is the main reason I want to see “Rock of Ages.”
Watch below and see whether you think Cruise can indeed convince America that he is both halfway there and living on a prayer.