A great film about rock and roll is a fast track to the annals of history. Something about the concept of rock, and the spectacle of its performance lends itself to some truly amazing concert films and features such as Almost Famous, High Fidelity, The Last Waltz, and Gimme Shelter. However, for every film that raises bar, there’s another one that belly crawls right under it, gets tired, and takes a nap.
There’s one such film that’s coming out this weekend. See if you can spot it on the list below.
Rock of Ages is going to be just terrible. There’s nothing about it that’s sincere, from the casting of Tom Cruise as rock star Stacee Jaxx, to the existence of a character named “Stacee Jaxx” to the fact that that it’s a jukebox musical (a term that I just learned and in doing so, probably forgot the quadratic equation or how to diagram a sentence).
I get that this film isn’t supposed to be a study of the serious qualities of rock and roll, or music, or even filmmaking, but rather a “romp” in which rock and roll is probably cartoonishly overblown, then subject to hyperbolic condemnation by a hot woman, but then Stacee Jaxx probably sleeps with the hot woman leading the rock and roll cause, then she loves rock and roll, and something happens at the end set to Journey’s “Wheel in the Sky,” and the credits roll, and receptionists the nation over will have something to talk to each other about on Monday morning.
I get that. But I’m not going to like it.
Take every cheesy cliché about rock and roll that you can think of (long hair, leather vests, the groupie stories) and couple it with a contrived story about loss and redemption, and you get Rock Star, a story about a fledgling cover band singer that was given the gig of his dreams in fronting one of the biggest bands in the world, the unfortunately-named Steel Dragon.
The premise is based on the story of Judas Priest, whose lead singer left the band after he came out as gay. He was quickly replaced by a Judas Priest tribute performer. The only problem with this story is that Judas Priest was popular in the early 1980’s, so to take a band of that ilk and drop them in 2001 looks, well, stupid.
In case that doesn’t turn your stomach enough, the final scene is of Wahlberg playing acoustic music in a coffee shop with long hair and in a sweater.
The Beatles are probably the greatest rock band that ever graced the earth, but that doesn’t mean they’re unimpeachable. Just like bands with 1% of their talent, they produced some mindlessly self-indulgent crap.
The cartoon is bad, but what makes it worse are the expectations raised by so many people who think that The Beatles just ooze creative talent. They do, but they didn’t put it into this psychedelic, LSD-inspired children’s story.
On paper, that sounds like a pretty cool concept, but it just doesn’t take in practice. If you want to bore yourself and your friends while pretending to be a sucker what’s supposed to be cool, toss in Yellow Submarine and watch the sparks fly.
Named after a famous Robert Johnson story in which the bluesman reportedly sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads for his guitar skills, , Crossroads popped up on many people’s radars as one of the few other feature films starring Ralph Macchio that didn’t have the word “Karate” or “Kid” in the title.
The story about a young man discovering the blues is a cool premise, but predictably, the film gets pretty schmaltzy pretty quickly. While I will concede that white boys can play the blues, I’m not convinced that our best representative would be Ralph Macchio. He’s like the modern-day Shia LaBeouf.
Also, the soundtrack is by Steve Vai, who is much more metal shredder than bluesman.
I was reluctant to include this film on the list, because when I was 11 years old, I had just learned about The Doors and Oliver Stone, and thought that both were, like The Beatles, above criticism.
I was such a dumb little kid.
The Doors were an insanely cheesy band that wallowed in self-seriousness and their “art.” Oliver Stone has some of those same proclivities as well, so when you put them together, it’s a tour de fromage that may appeal to a sixth-grader, but makes everyone roll their eyes extra times due to the self-seriousness of the band in question. Lighten up guys. Do your drugs. Wear your leather pants. But let go of the whole “poet” angle and play your damn rock music.
Good soundtracks do not a fine film make. This movie is absolutely terrible. As everyone already knows, it stars Prince, who is a terrible actor, in that every scene he appears, you half-expect to hear the director off-screen whispering, “Harder! Act harder! No! HARDER!”
And Prince acts really hard, but the only problem is that it’s terrible. I can tell you immensely more about the soundtrack than I can about the film, and for that I am grateful. Terrible senseless film. With an amazingly great soundtrack.
Damn you, Prince!