A&E » Film

A musical nightmare



"It's certainly a phenomenon in all walks of life. At one time you've got it, and then you lose it, and it's gone forever. All walks of life..."

-Sick Boy, in 1996's Trainspotting

Tom Cruise had it in the Top Gun, Color of Money, Rain Man, Nicole Kidman era. He was the biggest star going but everything after The Firm has really been an overall downward trajectory, punctuated with the odd positive blip (Magnolia). The TSN turning point, where Tom Cruise lost it, is that "You can't handle the Truth!" scene in A Few Good Men where Jack Nicholson schools him. It was more than acting, he got outclassed.

Well, everyone's favourite Scientologist (because really, John Travolta is a joke) is back at it this week in Rock of Ages, a movie based on an off-on Broadway musical, based on an free-spirited era the likes of which we will probably never see again (thanks AIDS, way to go).

Full disclosure — I haven't seen Rock Of Ages, and I don't intend to. Musicals belong on the stage and then only barely (sure Moulin Rouge is cool but I enjoy it just as much on 'mute'). To me, film musicals are a garbage-strewn miscarriage of the cinematic arts but as a generation raised on So you Wanna be America's Next Top Glee Idol comes of age, this pandering form of entertainment seems to be getting more popular.

This week it's '80s rock, and hair metal especially, getting bleached at the multiplex as Cruise plays Stacee Jaxx, a bad-boy rock star back on Sunset Strip for one big show while a few starry-eyed up-and-comers dream of making it big together. Add in a dozen or so B-rated '80s tunes, some choreographed dance numbers, the thinnest of plots, a PG rating and a clogged roster of big-name actors (and that smug bastard Paul Giamatti) and you've got a slap in the face to anyone who cares or knows or misses or loves real, dirty, whiskey-soaked, stripper-friendly cock rock.

Perhaps I'm being bitter because I'm old and Sick Boy's right — I lost it, and I'll never get those grade school Crüe/GnR years back. Apparently Tom Cruise isn't even that bad in Rock of Ages and Julianne Hough (from the Footloose remake) is as smoking hot as ever, but nostalgia and celebrity karaoke are not enough to get me out to see a musical and they won't be enough to carry this film anywhere. You can tell it takes itself too seriously, when hair metal is supposed to be irresponsible fun. Wait for the The Dirt, based on the Mötley Crüe book, if you want to watch a real rock and roll flick. This shit is for kooks.

Adam Sandler is another legend whose artistic output lately resembles the inside of a music-festival Port-a-Potty but That's My Boy looks like a positive blip. Sandler stars as an aging, rock-loving manchild who achieved fame as a youth by impregnating his hot math teacher (she went to jail, he did a shitty job raising their kid).

Years later, and facing IRS trouble, Sandler seeks out his estranged (and successful) son (Andy Samberg) who is about to get married and start a real life with hot-ass Leighton Meester. Various odd-couple, bad-parent, sometimes-funny hijinks ensue.

Samberg (Hot Rod) is leaving Saturday Night Live after seven years. Sandler made a similar career move and became a comedic legend, because back then he had it. What real-life wisdom can he impart to Samberg? Is it possible to stay cool forever? Or do we just get old and eventually can't hack it anymore, as Sick Boy says? The answer is to rage while you're young and rock on.

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