| June 12, 2012

I must warn you: This isn't your typical movie review column. My ratings system is simple: Is it worthy of a date night out at the movies? Blu-ray? Or is it just a bust?

I Wanna Rock!

"Rock of Ages" is the story of a small town girl (Sherrie, played by Julianne Hough) living in a lonely world, who took the midnight train going anywhere … Once she arrives in Hollywood, she meets city boy Drew (Diego Boneta) on the famous Sunset Strip. Together they pursue their dreams of stardom while working at The Bourbon Room, brushing elbows with rock and roll legends like Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). It's your classic boy-meets-girl love story set to the soundtrack of the greatest ‘80s rock songs ever! Right from the opening credits, we’re treated to smash hits like “Paradise City” (Guns and Roses), “I Love Rock and Roll” (Joan Jett), and fun music mash-ups between classic bands like Twisted Sister, Journey and Foreigner. What's really unique is that the cast members actually sing all the tracks themselves. It’s interesting and impressive to hear Hollywood A-listers showcasing some real rock and roll chops!

Talk Dirty to Me!

The star power in this movie comes from Stacee Jaxx, a rock god that rules the world in 1987. He is, in his own words, about just one thing: SEX. Jaxx is played by Tom Cruise, no stranger to ‘80s superstardom, who does an exceptional job. Transforming his body, draping himself in period threads, and getting a little help from his sidekick (a monkey named HEY MAN), Cruise becomes a perfect combination of Brett Michaels, Tommy Lee and Jon Bon Jovi.

Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and Lonny (Russell Brand) are hilarious together in their roles running The Bourbon Room, a pulse-pounding rock institution. It’s where all the magic happens, and Baldwin's and Brand's chemistry is worth the price of admission!

At the other end of the spectrum is nemesis Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who leads a hell-bent crusade against Jaxx and his "Sex! Hateful music! And ... Sex!" Zeta-Jones captures the anti-rock movement while performing a few numbers of her own — including an impressive dance routine to Michael Jackson’s "Beat It" that would make MJ proud.

Finally, Julianne Hough was born to play Sherrie, delivering the breakout performance we wanted from her in “Footloose,” but never got. Better late than never!

Some other high notes go out to Mary J. Blige, Bryan Cranston, Paul Giamatti and screen newcomer Diego Boneta.

We Built This City on Rock and Roll

Teased hair, tacky clothes and top-notch music helped build the ‘80s into an unforgettable decade. If you enjoyed Aqua Net hairspray, ripped jeans with leather jackets, and head-banging tunes sung by men who wore women's makeup, then this movie is for you! Its power ballads may not power this movie to the top of the box office, but who cares? It’s only rock and roll to me!

The Date Nighter Says: Do it. "Rock of Ages" is nothin’ but a good time!