See It: Rock of Ages

Loved this movie. Stand-out performances, soundtrack, and comedy make it work. Photo/poster credit: IMDb

Last night one of my girlfriends and I escaped our families for a spell. After enjoying a peaceful dinner without interruptions or requests for more drinks or food, we went to see Rock of Ages in the IMAX at our local AMC 30 Theatres.

Peer and press reviews told us to beware: it’s a mega cheese fest. So, along with the four others in the audience, we sat back and were transported back in time to the ’80s — the decade of big hair, manufactured “boy” bands, and heavy metal vs. rigid church folk.

While the film was a mega cheese fest, it was a hilarious look at what made the ’80s so decadent. Also, the soundtrack includes hits from bands (Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Def Leppard, Poison, Guns ‘N Roses, Motley Crue, Journey, etc.) that carried the look, sound and antics all have come to associate with that era. Finally, Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand and Paul Giamatti gave stand-out performances. Without giving too much away the duet Baldwin and Brand perform was dead-on, hilarious; and one of many scenes some reviewers just didn’t “get”. Audience members with minimal expectations, a desire to be entertained, and a history with the ’80s should come away from this film with a hankering to see it a second time (like me).

My commentary and links to other Rock of Ages reviews …

Steve Ouellette’s movie review for the Press-Republican, calls the original tracks from many of the musicians covered (Def Leppard, Poison, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, etc.) to be pretty terrible. All I can say is that I was singing right along with the movie. Perhaps my ability to be objective is tainted from being a proud and long-time fan of all the said talents. Further, Ouellette suggests renting the movie, Rock Star, as an alternative. Quite frankly, the only element of Rock Star I liked was Brian Vander Ark’s turn as Ricki Bell. Vander Ark was lead vocals and principal songwriter for The Verve Pipe during the years I spent at Western Michigan University. My Western Herald peers and I attended many of their concerts; and some are fortunate to continue following this band as it continues to evolve.

Amy Biancolli, SF Gate (Home of San Francisco Chronicle) and Lisa Giles-Keddie (europe.real.com), came away with the same feelings I did.  I thoroughly Cruise’s Stacie Jaxx. Say what you may. But, Cruise is a talent at playing characters with over-the-top, egotistical personas. His Jaxx kept reminding me of his Lestat in Interview with a Vampire. Also, I identified with these reviewers’ appreciation for what the movie was … a parody of “bygone era.” I sang along to all the hits covered in the movie and got a belly-ache laughing through the duet Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand perform.

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See It: Xanadu Live at Meadowbrook Theatre

You have to believe we are magic
Nothin’ can stand in our way
You have to believe we are magic
Don’t let your aim ever stray
And if all your hopes survive
Your destiny will arrive
I’ll bring all your dreams alive
For you

— John Farr, performed by Olivia Newton John, Xanadu

After romancing two glasses of Pinot Grigio Campanile and my husband at Mitchell’s Fish Market Saturday evening, I revisited what I define as one of the best decades ever. I saw a family friend and former neighbor star, David Havasi, in the live production of Xanadu at Meadowbrook Theatre in Rochester Hills, Mich.

Photo Credit: Meadowbrook Theatre, mbtheatre.com

Perhaps re-connections with school mates through social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest stir up all these feelings of nostalgia. But, it was a decadent performance complete with leg warmers, flashy colors, superb roller disco moves and replays of hits from Olivia Newton John (one of my fave’s from that era).

I recommend booking a date with your partner or girlfriends for a trip down memory lane with this very talented cast. It’s surreal to look back at the years growing up during the ’80s. What great memories and good times.

Can’t help myself. I’m singing this in my head as I type. So, it’s the only cure I know …

A million lights are dancing
And you’re here with me
Eternally

Xanadu Xanadu (now we are here)
In Xanadu
Xanadu Xanadu (now we are here)
in Xanadu

Xanadu
your neon lights will shine
For you Xanadu.

Jeff Lynne, performed by Olivia Newton John

Cover of "Xanadu - Magical Musical Editio...
Cover via Amazon