| The guilty pleasure of the summer is this film adaptation directed by Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”) of the Tony Award-nominated jukebox musical currently playing on Broadway.
This blast from the past brings back the decadent head-banging era of the late 80s when rockers ruled concert halls, night clubs and the radio.
The songs made famous by Def Leppard, Journey, Jefferson Starship, Twisted Sister, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Joan Jett, Jon Bon Jovi and Pat Benatar turn this story into a greatest-hits album.
The movie opens in 1987 with a sweet blonde from Tulsa named Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough from “Footloose”) riding on a Greyhound bus bound for the big city of Los Angeles seeking fame, fortune and the man of her dreams. Upon her arrival, her suitcase is stolen. With only $17.00 in her purse, she is consoled by an aspiring rocker named Drew Boley (Diego Boneta from “90210”).
Drew works behind the bar at The Bourbon Room, a fictitious Hollywood club located in the seedy, but coveted Sunset Strip, owned by Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin of “30 Rock”). He gets Sherrie a job there as a waitress. Drew and Sherrie fall in love and make an attractive couple.
Dennis is in financial difficulties and owes back taxes from operating the club in the red.
He sees an opportunity to make some quick cash by booking aging rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise from “Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol” and “Knight and Day”) and his band Arsenal, who recently announced their breakup, for a farewell concert at the Bourbon Room.
Philandering politician Mike Whitmore (Bryan Cranston from “Red Tails” and “Breaking Bad”) is running for mayor. He is aided by his holier-than-thou domineering wife Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones from “Chicago”). Her “Clean up the Strip” initiative takes aim at closing down The Bourbon Room considered a hotbed of sex and hateful music.
The other characters that carve out a niche in the various storylines include “Rolling Stone” hottie journalist Constance Sack (Malin Akerman from “27 Dresses,” “The Proposal” and “Couples Retreat”); Jaxx’s sleazy and opportunistic manager Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti); Dupree’s hyperactive assistant Lonny Barnett (Russell Brand); the nearby gentlemen’s club owner Justice Charlier (Mary J. Blige) and Jaxx’s pet baboon sidekick Hey Man (Mickey).
This crowd-pleasing film provides goofy fun and outrageous moments. A nostalgic good time is guaranteed as you listen to great voices sing these memorable songs. You will find yourself laughing at the hilarious surprises along the way.
Cruise is sensational as this larger-than-life rock star. His fame brings a sense of entitlement to an endless supply of drugs, booze and girls. Women will get a sexual buzz from watching a half-naked Cruise gyrate, howl and sweat. He struts his stuff in a masterful performance that tops Jeff Bridges Oscar-winning turn in “Crazy Heart.”
A hilarious signature scene occurs when Bridges and Brand sing as a duet “I Can’t Fight This Feeling.” A musical faceoff duel between family value conservatives and rock ‘n’ roll devotees brings renditions of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “We Built This City.”
The costumes, wigs and makeup are superlative and recreate the period in which “sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll” flourished.
The movie is available at select AMC Theatres in the premium IMAX and ETX formats.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"