Big hair + camp love stories = laughter to the point of tears

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Lonsdale beanie on. Check. Big black ugg boots. Check. Tight black denims, black tee and puffy jacket (’cause there’s a storm a-comin’ outside). Check, check, check. Nothing was going to stop me seeing a preview of Rock Of Ages, the film adapted from the musical about the decade that taste forgot: the Eighties. Indeed, to go with the theme I dressed in faux bogan gear from head to toe.

The music of the Eighties that I got into was more of a New Romantic bent: Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, The Thompson Twins, and, well, okay, a bit of Wham! (exclamation mark always imperative). My music idols would posture and pout, but their clothes, although loud, were usually couture-inspired and their hairdos well-kempt. Any act that boasted long straggly locks and wore tight pants (Twisted Sister, Poison, even Def Leppard) would be jeered by me and my trendier New Romantic friends. But Rock Of Ages makes me want to actually listen to some of the lyrics of those power-rock tracks I once despised as a teen.

In the wake of an Eighties musical revival – thanks to the mainstream success of television’s Glee - it came as no surprise that the stage musical would be a major success and that, like many before it, would be translated into film, albeit with a major script overhaul.

When I heard Tom Cruise would be playing the lead role – as the frontman of a major ‘cock rock’ band, I had my reservations. But then I recalled his best ever role that outshone any action lead he’d played: as conceited self-help guru Frank T. J. Mackey, and how great he was playing an up-himself icon with major façade issues. (What do you mean art imitating life?). Anyway, Cruise playing an egotistical rock star just had to be seen. And he fills the boots well. His scotch-swilling, swash-buckling Stacee Jaxx character is so over-the-top that you need to see it for the ironic gig that it is, and take it with a grain of salt to appreciate it. Rock salt, even (sorry).

Anyway, to the film itself, for those who’ve had their head under a (here it comes again) rock for the past few years, Ages hones in on an era of excess and extremities, and does so with tongue firmly planted in cheek, political correctness thrown right out the window, and each of its colourful cast knowing just when to push the exaggeration button so that none of the performance need be taken at all seriously.

Set in 1987 on the Sunset Strip, the story follows rocker wannabe Drew (Diego Boneta, who’s almost as pretty as his female co-star) as he falls in love with Sherrie (that’d be Julianne Hough), a smalltown girl who moves to star-studded LA to try making her dreams of being a singer come true.

All up, Rock Of Ages is a laugh-a-minute film, and had even this closet rocker getting into a couple of Foreigner and Def Leppard songs. Look out for the camp scene between Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin, in which Brand is the spitting image of one Freddie Mercury. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up playing the Queen singer in a biopic one of these days. More glam rock and camp shenanigans on the big screen for us to look forward to, perhaps?


Rock Of Ages is screening nationally.

To view the trailer click here.