I Watched Rock of Ages so You Don’t Have To
Rock of Ages comes out on DVD on October 9, and someone at Warner Bros., I guess seeing all the positive coverage we did for the movie, sent me a promo copy. So me and my friend Jack Daniels actually sat down to watch and give you a blow-by-blow of the entire thing, which, as it turns out, is not just bad, but also racist and sexist. SCORE!
I hope it’s more fun for you to read about Rock of Ages than it was for me to watch it.
:00 – The movie opens with Russell Brand’s voice over Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City.” This must be what it feels like to have bipolar disorder.
:29 – Scientology Jones’ horrible auto-tuned version of the GN’R classic plays over opening credits. I gonna hafta start drinking immediately if I’m going to make it through this.
:35 – We learn the movie takes place in 1987. This should be interesting.
1:34 – Julianne Hough on a bus with a suitcase full of hair metal vinyls. For no discernible reason, she pulls out a photo of her as a child with some lady, looks at it, then turns it around and reads a hand-written note signed, “Grandma.” The exposition in this movie is going to be expertly handled, I can tell.
1:44 – Julianne begins to sing “Sister Christian” on the bus. Bus driver looks in the rear view mirror at her and joins in; soon other randoms on the bus join in as well. Clearly, everyone except maybe Julianne is lip-synching to someone else’s voice, I guess because the actual singers didn’t look right for the part, although you wonder why they didn’t just hire actors who had the right look and can sing. It’s not impossible –Broadway does it all the time.
1:54 – It’s like a choir of robots. Not a single note of these vocals have remained untouched by technological hands.
2:37 – Little girl on the bus turns to Julianne and sings the line, “You’ll be alright tonight.” I finally give in and pour my first whiskey.
3:27 – Julianne gets off the bus and starts singing David Lee Roth’s “Just Like Paradise” while walking wide-eyed down Hollywood Boulevard. Like the beginning of the “Welcome to the Jungle” video, only abysmal.
4:00 – Hookers sing the part of the song that goes, “You were meant for this when you were born.” They’re actually being reasonably clever about how they use the songs, but again, it doesn’t matter because a) they all sound like fucking WALL•E (ooh, I wish I were watching that instead), and b) four minutes into the movie, and I have no fucking idea why I’m watching this girl or should care. Because she’s pretty and she wants to be famous? Yeah, that’s relatable. Assholes.
4:30 – Penis Face who makes Brett Michaels look masculine breaks into Poison’s “Nothing But a Good Time.” Second whiskey poured.
5:41 – Russell Brand may actually not be auto-tuned. Holy shit, if he’s the best thing about this movie, I am going to need a bigger bottle of whiskey.
6:28 – Good news: Alec Baldwin is also not auto-tuned. Bad news: Alec Baldwin cannot sing. Good news: he basically talks his way through his part.
6:38 — I wonder how a young Alec Baldwin would have reacted to the news that someday he’d be singing Poison for a living. Suicide, I imagine.
7:30 – Julianne gets mugged. I’m rooting for the mugger because I still have no idea why I should care about this woman.
7:45 – Penis Face, who is apparently an aspiring musician (you can tell because Russell Brand referred to him as “an aspiring musician” in the previous scene — again, terrific handling of the exposition) and Julianne meet cute when Penis Face fails to save Julianne from the mugging. “He took my records!” Julianne cries. I saw what you had in the suit case, he did you a favor.
8:18 – They’re both singers OMG adorable kill me.
8:20 – Penis Face works at The Bourbon Room. I wonder what venue that’s modled on.
9:00 – Penis Face to Julianne: “Do you need a job? I could ask Denis Dupree, my boss.” Because when you offer to try and get someone a job, you always include your boss’ full name. Seriously, they’re not even trying to be subtle with these details. I’m shocked Penis Face doesn’t turn to the camera and whisper, “I’m talking about Alec Baldwin.”
Side note: It took THREE FUCKING SCREENWRITERS to adapt this crap. Their respective previous credits include Adam Sandler’s Just Go with It, the story-free Iron Man 2, and nothing you’ve ever heard of. This movie was fucking doomed from the start.
9:14 – Joke about how hair metal dudes look like girls. Fair enough.
9:34 – Joke about how Michael Jackson “looks a bit pale” recently.
9:35 – I am drunk.
10:00 – Alec Baldwin calls Julianne “a flaming dipshit.” I laugh out loud for the first time.
11:00 – Baldwin hires Julianne as a waitress despite his assessment of her. Exposition about how tomorrow is the last show of a band called Arsenal whose lead singer is going solo. I assume this going to be Scientology Jones’ character.
11:10 – Bryan Cranston is in this movie as a conservative politician. Did Bryan Cranston lose a bet? He’s on this massively successful television series, but his film roles are universally awful.
11:30 – Oh, he’s supposed to be Al Gore, I get it now. Catherine Zeta-Jones is Tipper.
13:00 – Alec and Russell watch Al and Tipper on television; once upon a time Al was Alec’s “best customer.” “What happens to people?” Alec wonders unironically.
14:00 – Scene in a recreation of the old Tower Records while a Skid Row song that wasn’t released until two years after the movie takes place plays in the background. Still the best part of the movie so far.
15:00 – Alec, Russell, and Penis Face sing “I Love Rock N’ Roll,” thus demonstrating why Joan Jett is a lesbian.
16:00 – All the dancing in this movie was filmed with medium shots or close-ups so you can’t actually see anything. This is one clever director, boy let me tell you.
17:00 – Penis Face reveals he has stage fright. I wonder where this is going? More whiskey.
17:35 – Penis Face asks Julianne out on a date and she agrees, I guess because this dude was nice to her and she doesn’t know anyone else in LA? There’s been no real work done to establish their relationship so I have to chalk this up to “Attractive people like to fuck each other,” which is actually the truth.
18:24 – Tipper tells Al she wants to shut down The Bourbon, because “if you cut off the head the body will die.” SCIENCE!
19:00 – First immigrant bus boy joke.
19:17 – Alec Baldwin tells Russell Brand he’s in financial trouble and needs the Scientology Jones show to go well or he’ll go out of business, because, as we all know, venues are made or destroyed based on the success or failure of one show.
19:20 – Russell Brand reveals that Scientology Jones is basically Axl Rose — a total prick who never shows up for shit.
19:25 – Joke about sowing up Debbie Harry’s vagina. Fun fact: Alec Baldwin was in a movie with Debbie Harry the year Rock of Ages takes place.
20:00 – Introducing Paul Giamatti as Doc McGhee. CELL PHONES WERE SO LARGE IN THE ’80s. HILARIOUS.
21:00 – Water. It’s getting harder to type.
21:30 – Introduction of Scientology Jones laying under a pile of beautiful naked women and wearing this:
“This will disprove the rumors about me!” Scientology Jons thought as he prepared for the scene.
22:00 – Scientology Jones’ ass cheeks. Back to whiskey.
23:00 – Al Gore is fucking his assistant. Poor Tipper.
23:14 – Okay, CZJ’s voice is actually really good, and she doesn’t sound especially robotic. Fuck me naked with a spoon.
24:00 – This dancing looks pretty complicated. Probably took a long time to learn. Good thing the director won’t let us see much of it.
24:45 – Bryan Cranston spanked with a ruler. Okay he definitely lost a bet.
25:42 – Second immigrant bus boy joke.
27:00 – Only at the end of Act 1 and I am out of whiskey. I might try to make gutrot from rubbing alcohol.
28:00 – Penis Face’s motor scooter makes the same amount of motor noise as a Harley would. Applause for the foley department!
28:30 – Penis Face and Julianne bond over dreams of being famous. I am so pulling for these kids.
31:00 – First kiss between Penis Face and Julianne. She then decides to try and help him with stage fright. It just occurred to me that while having a main character in a musical with stage fright may not be a terrible idea, the logic seems whacky because we’ve already seen him sing in public like eight times. I’m never really clear on the rules of the world in which musicals exist, but I always assumed the characters knew they were singing and dancing and that was just, like, somehow part of life in their universe. But I guess not? I have now spent too much time thinking about this.
32:30 – Obligatory romcom montage.
33:30 – “OH NO OUR OPENING ACT QUIT!” Alec Baldwin seems bizarrely upset by this news. Then Julianne convinces him to hire Penis Face because “no one cares about the opening act.” Alec Baldwin concurs, thus negating everything he just said ten seconds ago. WRITING!
34:39 – Penis Face is told he can play three songs. Unless he’s in Between the Buried and Me, that is the shortest support act set ever.
35:00 – Julianne sings Extreme’s “More Than Words,” which came out in 1991, and is about a guy who wants his girlfriend to give it up more (thus expressing her love with, you guessed it, more than words). I’m not clear how it’s intended here, though, since we just saw in that montage that Julianne and Penis Face have already copulated a LOT. So what else does she want, her face tattooed on his chest?
36:37 – Penis Face plays Warrant’s “Heaven,” Jani Lane rolls in his grave.
40:00 – Scientology Jones enters The Bourbon with a monkey in a leather coat.
43:00 – Malin Akerman is supposed to be a journalist, which is only slightly more believable than when Denise Richards played a nuclear physicist in that one James Bond movie.
45:00 – Scientology Jones has made the brilliant acting choice that his character never speaks above a whisper, which does not make him at all difficult to understand. Whassa matter, the Bane mask wasn’t available?
46:00 – This scene has been going on for three minutes and has been almost entirely exposition. Again, almost halfway through the movie.
47:00 – RoboCruise sings Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” Here I come, rubbing alcohol!!!
48:24 – We’re supposed to interpet this song as Scientology Jones’ explanation for why being famous is so hard. This whole movie is about famous douchebags justifying their existence and kids who want to grow up to be famous douchebags. There is not a single relatable character in the whole thing. Again, hard to believe people didn’t love this movie!
50:00 – Julianne, who is allegedly the protagonist of this movie, re-enters it after a fifteen minute absence.
51:00 – Just realized Julianne is not the girl from Heroes.
51:30 – SPEAK UP, TOM CRUISE, I CAN’T FUCKING UNDERSTAND A WORD YOU ARE SAYING YOU STUPID PIECE OF SHIT.
51:55 – Oh, poor Will Forte. He deserves better than this.
53:30 – Malin Akerman explains to Scientology Jones what an entitled shit he is; consequently, he kicks all his yes men and groupies out of the room but allows Malin to stay. I wonder if that would have worked on the real Axl Rose.
54:17 – I really wish I could play you all the audio of Scientology Jones’ dialogue. This is so, so much worse than what Tom Hardy did in The Dark Knight Rises. I’m considering turning on the subtitles just so I can understand what the hell he’s saying.
55:00 – RoboCruise and RoboMalin sing “I Wanna Know What Love Is.” They met ten minutes ago and they’re in love. BEST. MOVIE. EVER.
57:00 – Malin demonstrates her love by tearing Scientology Jones’ pants off with her teeth.
58:00 – Amazing sex scene where, unless the characters’ genitals are supposed to be magic or something, no actual intercourse takes place.
59:17 – Malin Akerman worries what fucking Scientology Jones will do to her journalistic credibility and runs out of the room, but doesn’t put her clothes back on first despite there being like a gajillion people standing just on the other side of the door, I guess to make really sure that everyone knows she fucked him.
1:01:00 – Penis Face’s stage fright almost gets the best of him, but he recovers with Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock.”
1:03:00 – Doc McGhee likes what he sees. So, to review, Penis Face had stage fright, which we never actually saw impede his success, and which he overcame after a few seconds, and now he’s going to be famous. They have completely robbed his story of all conflict. This is like Storytelling 101 shit. FUCK.
1:04:30 – Thirty seconds after coming off stage, Penis Face has turned into a petulant dick who blows off Julianne.
1:06 – RoboCruise sings Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Holy shit, this asshole has a lot of songs in this movie.
1:10:19 – Doc McGhee screws Alec Baldwin out of money. Again, since we do not give two fucks about this character, it’s hard to feel anything about this plot development.
1:11:30 – Julianne finds a new waitress job, but quits after some dude gooses her. In Hollywood. In 1987. Sheesh.
1:12:00 – HOLY SHIT, THERE’S A BLACK PERSON IN THIS MOVIE. Up until now the only non-white person on screen was the immigrant bus boy.
1:13:00 – Just realized it’s Mary J. Blige. She’s apparently playing this movie’s version of Bagger Vance — the Hollywood archetype that is commonly referred to as “The Magical Negro.” This movie is still less racist than Transformers or Avatar, though.
1:14:00 – Bagger Blige hires Julianne, the girl who quit her waitressing job because some dude grabbed her ass, as a stripper, a profession which guarantees your ass will never be grabbed. Unless you’re literally rubbing it on some dude’s cock during a lap dance. That’s much better than being goosed.
1:17:00 – We learn that Tipper used to be a groupie and she fell in love with Scientology Jones and he fucked her and split and now that’s why she’s a heinous nag. PSYCHOLOGY!
1:19:00 – For the first time in my life, I hate Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.”
1:21:00 – OH MY GOD WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ALEC BALDWIN’S CHARACTER IF HE CAN’T PAY HIS BILLS???
1:22:00 – I decided rotgut was a bad idea so I called the booze delivery people and hopefully they’ll get here soon.
1:22:30 – WOW. So it turns out that Alec and Russell have secretly been in love with another the whole time, and they then confess that love while doing a duet of REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling.” BEST PLOT TWIST IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA.
1:24:00 – Alec and Russell share the most convincing kiss in the movie so far, because at least they’ve known each other for more than ten seconds and so we can believe that they may actually love one another…
1:24:10 – …and this nice moment is promptly undermined by an immigrant bus boy joke.
1:24:55 – Bagger Blige teaches Julianne how to be a stripper to a soundtrack of Journey. This is the first realistic moment in the entire movie.
1:25:50 – Doc McGhee shops Penis Face around to the record labels, but they all pass because “rock is dead.” Again, this movie takes place in 1987, when Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet was #1 on the Billboard charts for seven weeks, making it the highest selling album of the year. I know they’re not going for stark realism here, but they could at least try to have the movie make sense, for fuck’s sake.
1:26:40 – Julianne wears more clothes when she’s being a stripper than she does in any other scene in the entire movie.
1:27:00 – They try to reinvent Penis Face as a New Kid on the Block and HOLY SHIT ELI ROTH IS IN THE MOVIE AS A MUSIC VIDEO DIRECTOR, immediately negating any good will he earned for his performance in Inglorious Basterds.
1:29:45 – Third and final minority in this movie plays a secretary, which I guess at least is a step up from being bus boy or a stripper.
1:39:26 – They may have gotten a little carried away with putting this monkey in costumes:
Oh, sorry, I meant this monkey:
1:32:20 – Scientology Jones fires Doc McGhee because he found out that Doc McGhee took Alec Baldwin’s share of the money from the show. At least, I think that’s what happened. I couldn’t really tell because Tom Cruise’s voice is so quiet I’m not even sure that his lips aren’t just moving while no sound actually comes out.
1:36:19 – I must have missed this while I was pouring another drink, but I guess Penis Face actually ditched Julianne because he thought she fucked Scientology Jones, which she didn’t. I’d apologize to the filmmakers for my error, but it’s not like that one story point would have made the last ninety minutes any less shitty so whatever.
1:37:00 – OH PENIS FACE, WHY DOES YOUR FACE LOOK SO PENIS-Y?
1:37:00 – Julianne reveals that she’s giving up on L.A. and going home. Immediately does no such thing.
1:37:20 – The movie posits that being in a boy band is worse than being a stripper. I kind of have a hard time believing that’s true, but it’s not like I’ve ever held either job so fuck do I know.
1:38:00 – THE BOOZE IS HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
1:40:00 – I think I heard “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” but I wasn’t paying attention because THE BOOZE IS HERE.
1:41:19 – Bagger Blige, in all her Yoda-like wisdom, tells Julianne that she came to L.A. looking for love, not fame. But given that we’ve established that Julianne left the grandmother who raised her behind to come to Hollywood, that’s doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
1:42:00 – Is T.J. Miller supposed to be Jann Wenner? He’s like eleven years old, isn’t he? Whatever. He tells Scientology Jones that he has a show at The Bourbon that night, which, somehow, is news to Scientology Jones. And me. If this was mentioned before I missed it because THE BOOZE IS HERE.
1:43:35 – Tipper and the PRMC are protesting outside The Bourbon, and then there’s this other pro-rock group a few feet away protesting their protest. Sebastian Bach shows up for a cameo and Russell Brand literally shoves him out of every shot.
I think some of the other people in the crowd are also notable, but I’m can’t remember any of their names, so, clearly, their contributions to rock music were A++++ WDBWA.
1:44:00 – I really would have loved to be on set the day CZJ, Will Forte, and Sebastian Bach were all present. It’s not every day you can trip balls without actually taking anything.
1:44:46 – “WHERE IS THE POLICE WHEN YOU NEED ‘EM?” Tipper yells while surrounded by dozens of police officers. Which is only the second funniest thing about that line, after the fact that she said “Where is the police” and rather than use another take or do some ADR in post, they just left it in.
1:45:27 – This next scene really elevates the movie from terrible to the worst thing ever. What happens is this: Scientology Jones shows up at the protest on a motorcycle. He recognizes Tipper in the crowd. He walks up to her, put his hand on her breast, and she, naturally, does not object.
Then Scientology Jones says, in his first audible line of dialogue in the entire movie, “Your tits have held up well.” She subsequently begins to moan with pleasure, and how could not she when there’s a man grabbing her breast without her permission and whispering sweet nothings into her ear?
So then Robocruise licks his finger…
…and lowers it out of frame, presumably to Tipper’s vagina (I don’t know how he got access through her fairly long skirt, but this guy can fuck through pants so I guess anything is possible)…
AND THEN SHE CUMS INSTANTLY.
Consequently, she is proven to be, I dunno, I guess not really conservative? Russell Brand shows the press a photo of her in one of Scientology Jones’ old albums and everyone turns on her. So, to review, the message this movie is sending to women is:
- It’s not cool to get angry at a guy who screwed you over in more ways than one when you were a teenager.
- You will and should suffer because of your youthful indiscretions, and your friends have a right to ostracize you for those discretions, even if you’ve obviously changed quite a bit since.
- All uptight women just need a good shtupping; you can fuck the mean out of a lady the same way you can pray the gay away.
Terrific, just terrific.
1:48:09 – The movie promptly makes up for the misogyny of the previous scene by making Malin Akerman watch Scientology Jones make out with multiple groupies as he makes he way across the club to her, and then instructs her to “Open your mouth,” at which point he sticks his entire tongue in.
1:49:00 – Penis Face’s Boy band have been booked as the openers for this show; they now perform for the crowd, who, natch, boo them off the stage. Alec Baldwin freaks out, tells Penis Face, “If all these people ask for refunds my club is gonna go out of business” or something to that effect. I’ve never heard of anyone requesting a refund because the support act sucks, but whatever. Just remember this plot point for a minute.
1:50:00 – Julianne forgives Penis Face because he bought her some records or something. I’m not sure, I’m pretty loaded right now.
1:51:00 – Well thank Christ they found time to bring this character back into the movie. I was really worried his storyline might never reach a satisfying denouement.
1:51:19 – So hey remember how Alec Baldwin’s entire life was now riding on this show (as opposed to when his entire life was riding on the previous show) and he was freaking out about making enough money to keep the club open? Well now Scientology Jones’ lackey walks in and hands Alec Baldwin a backpack full of money to make up for the cash Doc McGhee stole, thus once again lowering the stakes of the scene and draining any tension from it, because what happens at this show no longer matters at all — the club will remain open no matter what. Someone should present the writers with an Oscar… up their asses.
1:51:34 – Scientology Jones and Malin Akerman fuck in the bathroom. It’s not clear if they actually took their pants off this time or their magic genitals allowed them to have sex through their pants again.
1:52:00 – Penis Face tells off Doc McGhee, who, once again, declares “Rock is dead!” And then the monkey clocks him.
Does anyone happen to know if there was a monkey in the Broadway musical? My gut tells me that this was yet another wonderful Hollywood flourish.
1:52:05 – Boy band member is tossed into the crowd. Cue Wilhelm scream.
1:53:00 – Julianne and Penis Face sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” which we’re told they wrote, and the crowd loves them for it, and this I guess begins their career as partners in business… and partners in life! It really makes me feel warm inside. Actually that might be the whiskey.
1:54:00 -We cut ahead X number of months and RoboCruise is singing the same Journey song and then Julianne and Penis Face come on stage as Robocruise’s “very special guests.” I am not at all clear if this means they now work for Robocruise or he’s just covering their breakthrough song for some reason. All the important characters are in the crowd, natch, including Bagger Blige, whose harmonies can magically be heard over the sound of thousands of screaming fans. Also Tipper is there but now she’s dressed like Rob Halford.
1:52:45 – Malin Akerman is pregnant with Scientology Jones’ baby. Those really are some magical genitals those two have.
1:56:00 – The final shot is of spotlights over the Hollywood sign, in case you somehow didn’t understand that this movie is about how awesome it is to be famous.
HOLY SHIT I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST WATCHED THAT WHOLE THING. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a toilet bowl.