It’s the middle of the summer movie season and instead of glorious action epics that are pure eye candy, we get a butt rock musical and Adam Sandler playing well……Adam Sandler. It’s going to be a tough match-up. But as the wonderfully accurate tag line of “Alien vs Predator” would say, “No matter who wins, We lose.” Let the games begin.
Rock of Ages, directed by Adam Shankman, is an adaptation of the famous broadway play. I’ve always wondered how someone could take well-known songs and put them together and call it an original play, but that’s beside the point. The film centers around the struggling nightclub, the Bourbon, on LA’s strip. The last saving grace for the club is the return of Stacee Jaxx, where he will be performing for the last time with his band Arsenal. In the mix of it all is Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, who play two club employees with big dreams. Through it all, they deal with love, success, failure, and heartbreak. Let’s be honest here. There really isn’t a story to speak of. It really is all about the music. At last count there were 397 songs from the 80’s in this flick. And every time one of the cast begins a song you can’t help but smile and you think about the good old days shooting tin cans on the outskirts of the trailer park. Oh, that wasn’t your memory? Never mind.
The entire cast, besides the two leads, is star-studded. Alec Baldwin plays the club manager, with his sidekick Loony, played by Russell Brand. I kind of hate the smug Baldwin but their story angle was good for a smirk. Catherine Zeta Jones who is sadly underused does manage to steal scenes as the uber-conservative Mayor’s wife who is hiding a dark past. Paul Giamatti plays Jaxx’s weasel manager and is exactly how you’d picture Paul Giamatti in the late 80’s. And lastly Tom Cruise is the best part of the entire flick. I know he has his haters out there, but he plays the aging rock god perfectly and even has a decent voice to boot.
This movie is completely manipulative because you just can’t help toe-tapping to the butt rock hits, but then you realize that the plot, pacing, and style are completely sub par. Yes the movie is entertaining but it is a saccharine sweetness that wears off quickly and works much better on stage than the big screen.
And now onto Sandler’s latest effort, That’s My Boy.
I have a little equation for this movie.
The voice from Little Nicky + hair from Wedding Singer X 354 F-bombs / any lasting comedy =
That’s My Boy.
Sandler plays Donny Berger, a former child celebrity because he had relations with his hot teacher when he was in 8th grade. That union brought forth a child who grew up to be Andy Samberg. Well, in the movie he plays Han Solo Berger, but has changed his name and disassociated himself from his father and is preparing for his high profile wedding. Sandler decides to crash the nuptials and apparently makes Samberg’s life a living hell. I say apparently because you just stop caring about the hijinx because if it can be embarrassing for Samberg’s character then you know the movie will “go there.”
This movie is Sandler’s best work in years. To give you the visual of how I feel about that, picture a piece of dog poo…now picture it with a funny tiny little hat. It’s still a piece of poo, but at least it’s decorated. That doesn’t even make sense. Anyways, I really didn’t want to laugh at all during this flick but caught myself doing 3 big gut laughs. The rest of the crowd ate it up though. Even though this movie managed to crack my rusty exterior I could not recommend it to anyone. The standard Sandler crowd would be offended because they are used to his PG-13 comedy style. Whereas, this movie is laced with F bomb after F Bomb. And just because he says it in a baby voice, doesn’t make it funny. Samberg seems embarrassed to be involved in this movie, as he is roped into a Paul Rudd-esque role of “embarrassed man.”
Is this movie funny? Yes it can be, but it’s funny in the way that American Wedding is funny. Over the top predictable situations rule all. And the comedy does not stay with you. I can’t recall one funny moment in the whole movie. I just remember being happy to see Vanilla Ice and his 5-0.
The winner in this lackluster weekend is Moonrise Kingdom….! What? I know I didn’t review that here, but it should be seen by Wes Anderson fans. The winner of Rock of Ages vs. That’s My Boy is….Rock of Ages. But sadly not by that much. They won on a technicality.