Box art for Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages

comedy, music & musicals, romance

In 1987 Los Angeles, an infamous rock star and a legendary Hollywood rock club facing its final countdown converge with an aspiring musician and a small town girl with big dreams.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 15
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
1 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
3 out of 5

Musical has more glam than grit, except for drinking.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rock of Ages is based on a Broadway musical comedy about rock 'n' roll, of which there is plenty (particularly heavy-metal hits from the '80s). There's also a lot of drinking, especially by an often-wasted star whose favorite drink is scotch, straight from the bottle, but no drugs or smoking. Words like "s--t" and "ass" are used (plus one "f--k"), and there are many suggestive scenes (think writhing, willing groupies and strip clubs) -- though there's no graphic nudity, and the sex scenes are more choreographed dance than erotica. The star-studded cast includes Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Russell Brand.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about rock music. Do you agree with some of the people in Rock of Ages who say that rock can inspire debauchery and wears away community morals? Or is it a means of self-expression that shouldn't be censored?
  • Do you think the rock star in the film is realistic? Do some musical legends live like this, surrounded by groupies and drunk most of the time? Or is this a stereotype?
  • How is drinking depicted in the movie? Are the consequences realistic?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Rock of Ages reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: No matter how you feel about Guns N' Roses, Tom Cruise's as a bandanna-headed Axl Rose type will hit you as the purest bit of genius in the man's entire film career.

- Amy Biancolli, San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rotten: It's content to keep toes tapping, when it should be bringing the arena to its feet.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, June 15, 2012

Rotten: Rock of Ages is not a spoof, but it might as well be, given how little there is to root for.

- Anthony Lane, New Yorker, Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Audience Reviews

2 stars

Tom Cruise is a rock god. His musical performances are charismatic and thrilling, bordering on psychotic. Say what you will about his real life antics, but he is consistently a damn good actor whose performances show evidence of commitment and work. Malin Akerman has a small, nerdy-sexy part, but it's more interesting than the lead's. The rest of the movie is pretty darn awful. The love story between Sherrie and Drew takes me down to Vapid City, and it's such a needlessly central part of the narrative. Diego Boneta has a rockin' voice, but Julianne Hough is capable of more than a high, nasal wail and a brief climb up a pole. She cut her film teeth ferociously with "Footloose," but "Rock of Ages" doesn't showcase her singing or dancing at all. The '80s tunes are great, but the remixing and editing of the numbers is so episodic. Many people dislike musicals because characters just randomly burst into song. The first number, "Sister Christian," is self-aware and successfully pokes fun at that assessment, but the rest of the songs happen so quickly and without purpose. There IS an art to writing musical narrative, but the original book/screenplay seems to be a nostalgic revue rather than a cohesive story.

- aliceinpunderland, Thursday, June 28, 2012

2 stars

I grew up listening to most of the bands featured in this musical comedy. As a fan of heavy metal and rock music, I was mildly curious about this musical. I've always loved rock and heavy metal music and I personally think it's the purest form of music you can listen to. It's music played from the heart. Anyhow on to my review. Rock of Ages directed by Adam Shankman is an entertaining but flawed musical. Though average, this film had the potential of being so much better than what it turned out to be. As it stands this is a film that provides mindless fun, and you watch this film expecting something great, you'll be disappointed. This film could have been great, but it just falls short at times because of the love story between the two main characters Sherrie and Drew. I personally felt that Julianne Hough, though very pleasant to the eyes just ruined the film. Every number she sang was horrible, she's a country singer, not a rock singer; I felt that she was miscast in the part. On the bright side, the veteran actors, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand and of course Tom Cruise were great. I just think it was a shame that there was not too much substance added to the film considering that hard rock and heavy metal are very much legendary genres of music. Tom Cruise saved this film from being a dud. Though never anything good, it's a decent, mindless good time of a film that might just these two genres of music to a younger generation. The films problem is that it goes from being cool to be silly to be all over the map. One minute you're really digging it, the next, you're just like ugh OK, right. Director Alan Shankman clearly can't direct something consistent and personally I think someone else should have directed it. For what it's worth, it's a fun little film that had potential for being so much better. The film had some good tunes, but was ruined by some not so good singers. Expect something decent and mindless and you may not be disappointed. Still this is a fun ride from start to finish even if it's imperfect. However this is not what real rock music is all about. They just hinted at the tip of the iceberg on that point throughout the film. At least they didn't butcher Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd as these bands were absent from the soundtrack and film. Rock of Ages has the potential of bringing the genre to a younger generation, and to me, that's important because today's music is crap, and rock and heavy metal is timeless! A decent film all around, definitely entertaining and fun, and not a film to take seriously whatsoever.

- TheDudeLebowski65, Wednesday, June 27, 2012

2 stars

Earlier this year, Rock of Ages came and quickly left the box-office, failing to make a splash with the American public despite a healthy enough run on Broadway and touring the country. The stage show is a jukebox musical set to the head-banging tunes of 1980s hair metal. Adam Shankman, the director behind the bouncy and thoroughly entertaining 2007 Hairspray movie musical, was tasked with bringing Rock of Ages to the screen with the same finesse. Cherie (Julianne Hogue) a hopeful singer just off the bus from Oklahoma, meets up with Drew (Diego Boneta), a nice kid who gets her a job at The Bourbon Room, a rock club running afoul with the mayor (Bryan Cranston) and his moral crusading wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The club owners (Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand) are relying on fickle, burned-out, taciturn, and overall mysterious rock legend Stacy Jaxx (Tom Cruise) to save their club from financial ruin. Along the way, Cherie and Drew look for their big breaks, fall in love, get pulled apart, and reunite in time for one final sendoff to leave the audience tapping their toes. Allow me to elucidate on my main problem with the rise in jukebox musicals: I find them to be, with rare exception, to be exceedingly lazy. The musical number is meant to advance the narrative and give insights into character and situation, just like any other aspect of plot. You'll find great original tunes that do this. When you're dealing with pop songs that the public is well familiar with, then your job becomes even harder, and I find many are just not up to the task. Too often jukebox musicals are designed to merely string together a pre-packaged and time-tested number of hit songs, utilizing the faintest of narrative threads to get from one song to the next. The appeal of jukebox musicals lies not with the story or characters but waiting for the next recognizable song and wondering how it will, poorly, fit into this new context. You'll notice that these jukebox musicals seem to have twice as many song numbers. They know their selling point, and more singing means less time spent developing characters and story. And so my impression of the jukebox musical is one of a cynical cash grab following the bare minimum of narratives to achieve the status of musical so it can be resold with low risk. I'm simplifying things in my ire, yes, but there's a definite reason that jukebox musicals have sprouted like mad in the past few years. They don't require as much work and the audience seems to hold them to a lesser standard. Much like the worst of Friedberg and Seltzer (Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans), it seems just recognizing the familiar has become the core draw of entertainment. And this is one of the main problems with Rock of Ages. I've never seen the stage show, but my God for something that purports to live the rock and roll lifestyle, its certainly so tame and scrubbed clean of anything dangerous. This feels like your grandparents idea of what "modern" rock music is. After a cursory search online, I've found that the movie makes some significant changes to convert a story about rock and roll hedonism into sanitized family friendly fare (spoilers to follow, theatergoers): apparently in the stage version, Cherie and Jaxx had sex in the Broadway show, Jaxx remains a creep and flees the country on statutory rape charges, though before that he and Cherie share a lap dance/duet to "Rock Me Like a Hurricane," the family values crusader characters were new inventions, the Rolling Stone reporter (Malin Akerman, the best singer in the film) is considerably beefed up to provide Jaxx his happy ending, and they don't even use the song "Oh Cherie." I'm not a stickler for adaptation changes, but clearly it feels like rock of Ages had every edge carefully sanded down to reach out to the widest array of mainstream filmgoers (Shankman says he cut Cherie's lap dance number because it tested poorly with mothers). The funny part is that the movie lambastes a slimy manager for playing to demo numbers, shooting for pandering mass appeal rather than the art, man. Feel the hypocrisy. The first hour of Rock of Ages is mildly passable mostly because of the goofy supporting cast, but then the movie just keeps going, getting more and more tedious with every protracted minute. The second half involves Cherie and Drew apart and finding new lows; for him it's selling his soul to join be in a boy band, and for her it's selling herself, working as a stripper. Let's look back at that sentence. One of those life choices is not nearly as possibly upsetting as the other. Nothing against the hard-working strippers in this country, but Cherie taking to the pole is definitely more of a moral compromise for the character than whatever the hell Drew endures. It's this leaden second hour that made me lose faith that Rock of Ages would even provide a morsel of cheesy entertainment. It has the misfortune of two of the blandest leads I've ever seen in a musical. Hogue (Footloose) and Boneta (Mean Girls 2) are both physically blessed specimens of human genetics, but oh are these kids boring boring boring. Their love story is completely malnourished and you couldn't scrape together one interesting thing about them combined. The fact that Rock of Ages further strips away any interesting personality from Cherie (see above) makes them even more disastrously boring. To be stuck with these two more another hour of vapid griping, only to magically get back together, is interminable. Thank God they pumped up the side characters because that is the only time when Rock of Ages even challenges for your attention. Cruise isn't the best singer but he's pretty good belting out 80s rock hits, and the man has his natural charisma and stage presence to spare. So I guess where Rock of Ages goes wrong, and where Les Miserables succeeds, is thinking of how best to translate the experience of the stage to the medium of film. Shankman does a pitiful job staging his musical numbers, with lackluster choreography that rarely takes advantage of the sets and characters. Worse, Shankman feels like he strays from the tone and angle of the stage show, sanitizing the rock and roll lifestyle and looking for ways to squeeze in bland happy endings. In other words, he doesn't capture enough of the essence of the original stage show to please neophytes and fans of the Broadway show. With Les Miserables, I think most fans of the stage show, and they are legion, will walk away feeling satisfied with the results, content that real artists treated the long-running musical with justice. Hooper opens up the world of the stage show, utilizing the parameters of film, and the emphasis on performance over singing mechanics maximizes the unique power of film. Les Miserables is a grand movie musical smartly adapted to the opportunities of film. Rock of Ages is a sloppy, neutered, criminally boring mess poorly developed and poorly translated to the silver screen. Let this be an educational resource for future generations. Take note, producers, and learn from the mistakes of Rock of Ages and the accomplishments of Les Miserables. Nate's Grade: C-

- mrbungle7821, Thursday, December 27, 2012