A gloriously tacky stage musical, still running in Covent Garden’s Shaftesbury Theatre, comes to the big screen in the expert safe hands of the director of the tacky Hairspray musical, Adam Shankman.
The show couldn’t be simpler. It’s the eighties. Small town-girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough, star of a third tacky film musical, Burlesque) comes to Hollywood, meets city boy Drew (rather blandly cute actor-singer Diego Boneta, in his feature debut), who’s working at a sleazy-looking, long-haired Alec Baldwin’s splendidly rundown and ailing rock ‘n roll venue on Sunset Strip. Her stuff’s been stolen, so Drew helps her get hired by Baldwin as a waitress, but of course, she’s a talented singer and a budding star – if only someone will let her sing her songs.
This everyday rock ‘n roll romance is told through the heart- and ear-pounding hits of the day of Def Leppard, Foreigner, Journey Poison, REO Speedwagon and Twisted Sister. Fair enough. Here’s a rundown of some great old tunes to flesh out a timeworn old story.
Now for the really good bit. Tom Cruise has the time of his life playing the sleaziest ever rocker Stacee Jaxx, going full-out and full-on for over-the-hill sex appeal. Funee. There’s plenty of outrageous Tom here, and he should finally land himself some new fans and even an aura of cool that he’s been missing this last decade or so.
The ever-reliable Paul Giamatti also scores well as his manager as Russell Brand gets his easy laughs, as you’d expect, as Baldwin’s right-hand man. Two of the world’s most famous heterosexuals, Brand and Baldwin even share a bit of guy love and a silly song together. Funee. Then there’s Catherine Zeta-Jones as the city mayor’s censorious, rock-hating wife and R&B queen Mary J Blige to add a bit of tuneful weight to things.
More sense of the eighties period would be better – think of the affectionate laughs they could have gotten sending up the excesses of the era. There’s no real satirical edge that would have truly made this movie fly. Then, again, you don’t get dancing in the aisle that you probably get at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Live is everything with this kind of musical.
Still the performers fake it very nicely, and bring it to the boil most of the time. And, if the show doesn’t hit the heights of the Rocky Horror Show or Spinal Tap, it’s still quite a hoot and a good fun night out. It’s even possible that, in a decade’s time, this will be a fondly cherished cult movie.
Verdict: It rocks! Worth it for the songs and the cast. 3/5
Copyright (c) Derek Winnert