Rock of Ages

Yeah, I watched a musical. Deal with it. I’ve also seen Les Miserables, so I’ve got that going for me as well.

I was a bit reticent about watching Rock of Ages, not because it’s a musical, but because so many films set in the 80s try to cram all the 80s into their running time. They might as well include a flashing neon sign that says, “Look! It’s a Rubik’s Cube!” The Wedding Singer  was set in 1984, so they just had to include a joke about the possibility of Van Halen breaking up. That sort of self awareness looks good on paper, but can often be cringeworthy when executed on screen.

Rock of Ages is set in 1987, but the music is representitive of the entire era of “Hair Metal.” At first I was a bit put off, but I went along with it. I decided to think of the film as taking place in an alternate universe; albeit one without airships cluttering up the sky. This approach came in handy when Drew (Diego Boneta) “wrote” a song we all know as “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey. It’s actually a sweet scene.

When I got into the film I really enjoyed it. Knowing what I now know, I need to rewatch it. At some point, I realized Rock of Ages is well and truly an 80s movie.

Julianne Hough plays Sherrie, a small town girl, who moves to LA because it beats being stuck in Oklahoma. Not long after she gets off the bus, Sherrie meets Drew, who just so happens to tend bar at the Bourbon Room, which is the epicenter of the Sunset Strip music scene. You can pretty much guess what happens next. We have seen this plot in many films and plays before, but the reason writers keep using it is because it works so well.

One thing Rock of Ages  got one hundred percent correct is the fashion and the hair. So many films go way over the top when depicting the 80s; which is an easy thing to do since it was an over the top decade. It was the fans of pop, new wave, new romantic, and goth music that wore the outlandish clothing, whereas the rock and metal fans wore mostly demim and leather. There were times in the 80s where I didn’t know if I was attending a rock concert or a fetish club. Either one was fine by me.

The blu-ray includes interviews with a number of musicians from the 80s. I had forgotten about some of the bands, such as London and Odin. That makes me wonder what else I have forgotten about the 80s. Or should I say repressed?

One of the interviewees was Chris Holmes of the band WASP, which led me to exclaim: “How the hell is he still alive!?! How is this even possible!?!” Those of you who have seen the documentary The Decline of Western Civilization part II: The Metal Years know what I am talking about. I may have forgotten about Odin and London, both of whom appear in the documentary, (I had to Google it) but I will never forget Chris Holmes in the swimming pool. Part of me wishes I could, and another part of sees it as a cautionary tale.

How some of us survived the 80s, God only knows.


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