I love me a good musical. I haven’t seen one in the West End for bloody ages, though not through lack of trying (SRSLY, SOMEONE GO SEE WICKED WITH ME), and whilst they always lose something in the transition from stage to film, they’re still always good fun.
And that’s the thing about this one. It’s good fun, in places, but it does generally involve completely switching off your brain. I don’t like the snobbery attached to musicals, as if a good plot is something that they never have, and don’t need. LOADS of musicals have good plots, and they’re normally the most beloved ones. This… does not have a good plot.
Had it been a good v bad, rock v religion type affair, with Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand taking on Catherine Zeta Jones through song, it could have been amazing, and actually pretty topical when you consider the right wing nutjobs running rampant thoughout America at the moment, but actually that plot gets shoved into firm “C-plot” territory so we can focus on the blandest love story that ever did bland.
We supposed to care about this boy and girl, who have zero personality, in a story that has been done literally a million times before (they meet, fall in love, break up due to misunderstanding, and then fall back in love again), and most laughably of all, we’re supposed to buy them as hardcore rockers, despite her looking like the lead singer of Cascada and him looking like a twink gay porn star. There’s also a plot detour through some pop snobbery which NEVER sits well with me, particularly since both of the stars (Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta) have released insipid pop albums.
The other main plot is Tom Cruise as a rock God, trying to rediscover his edge. The problem with this storyline is that this is exactly the sort of character that “steals scenes”. They wander in, are amazing, and wander off again. Stacee Jaxx cannot “steal scenes” because he has many, many LENGTHY scenes just handed to him, so Tom Cruise can show everyone just how versatile he is. Yawn. Plus, Malin Akerman (Watchmen) as his love interest can’t seem to decide if she’s a serious journalist, or a whore.
There are good bits though. Several of them, actually. Considering it’s a film about rock, I really enjoyed all the song choices (if I have to listen to rock, I definitely pick the ’80’s hair metal type, ta). And the performances of those songs are generally very good. In particular, CZJ kicking up a storm in a church to “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, clearly having the time of her life (and doing admirably not to start a fire with her frantic dancing in a polyester suit), Tom Cruise singing “I Want to Know What Love Is” directly to a vagina, in one of the silliest, funniest sex scenes since Team America, and a surprisingly sweet duet of “Can’t Fight This Feeling” between Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand.
Actually, that annoyed me too. SPOILER ALERT: there’s a gay romance in this, but whereas all the other couples are sexing like maniacs, the gays get a hand hold and a very chaste peck on the lips. BOO. I’m sick and tired of the gays getting a raw deal, and being treated completely differently when it comes to TEH SECHS. It’s the same on Game of Thrones, and it’s really starting to annoy me that producers think that nothing’s off limits, sex-wise, apart from gayness which is just icky. SHOW SOME BUMMING, YOU COWARDS.
Ultimately, I just don’t know what star rating to give this. It’s entertaining enough, the songs are very good, and the whole thing is enjoyably silly, but it’s far too long, badly paced, and just a bit too… bland, considering it’s supposed to be about the joy of rock music. I think it would be getting two stars, but did I mention Mary Jactual Blige is in it?! She raises anything by a star rating. FACT.