Film Critics’ Most Epic Hard Rock-Themed ‘Rock of Ages’ Disses


If you plan on seeing Rock of Ages this weekend, be sure to sneak a flask of whiskey in with you. At least, that’s what we’ve gleaned from the many vicious reviews of the Broadway jukebox musical turned Hollywood cash-in that we’ve seen. Of course, with a movie like this — which, despite a cast that includes Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, and even freaking Bryan Cranston, was always bound to be terrible — the critics’ response tends to provide more entertainment than the feature itself. Aside from a few defenders, most of whom argue that it falls into the “so bad it’s good” category, reviewers really let loose in attacking Rock of Ages, and many extended their critiques to incorporate either appropriate lyrics and references or impromptu takedowns of ’80s hair metal as a whole. We’ve rounded up our favorite hard rock-themed Rock of Ages disses below.

“Fans of Moulin Rouge-esque repurposing will be in hog heaven. Everyone else will want to hop that midnight train going anywhere pronto.” — Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York

“By the end, you will still ‘… Want To Know What Love Is.'” — Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicleh

“Ah, but ‘Sister Christian’ — how good to hear that old tune again. That’s all Rock of Ages really had to do: tap into the nostalgia that fuels hair metal lovers, crank it up and let the good times flow. Instead, it tests your patience. Guess every rose really does have its thorn.” — Connie Ogle, The Miami Herald

“A Rolling Stone reporter (Malin Akerman) manages to get to Jaxx; their duet to ‘I Want to Know What Love Is’ takes things further than the usual journalist-source relationship. It’s pretty funny, and Cruise is really good both in the role and with his singing. But here again, we’re talking about songs like ‘I Want to Know What Love Is.’ Not to be a college-radio snob or anything, but … well, yes. Be a college-radio snob. Be a good-music snob.” — Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

“In the words of the Journey song that serves as a climactic singalong, it goes on and on and on and on.” — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

“Cruise at least seems to be enjoying himself, but the filmmakers could have saved themselves a lot of money by hiring Val Kilmer simply to recreate his performance in The Doors.” — Nathan Rabin, A.V. Club

“It’s a sentimentalised and weirdly humourless movie — targeted at the middle-aged at heart — in which the rock scene is celebrated as a world where the descending model of Stonehenge is always the right size.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“There are two basic ways of thinking about this music; which one you’re inclined toward will probably influence your enjoyment of Rock of Ages. One is fond nostalgia — this was innocently hedonistic good-time party music, with hooks big enough to land Moby Dick. ‘Goddamn, they don’t make ’em like they used to,’ said Mickey Rourke’s Randy ‘The Ram’ in The Wrestler, when Def Leppard comes on in a bar. ‘Then that Cobain pussy had to come around and ruin it all.’

“The other — which I happen to believe — is that that Cobain pussy did everyone a great favor, because hair metal was bone stupid, creatively bankrupt, morally debased pop trash that marked an all-time low in record-label-chart manipulation and synthetic hit-making hackery. And if rock, as is herein insisted, will never die, the ‘rock’ paradigm perpetuated by Rock of Ages — the same as in Rockstar energy drink and Nickelback’s ‘Rockstar’ — deserves a deep, dank unmarked grave.” — Nick Pinkerton, Village Voice

And finally, a passage that doesn’t quite count as a hard rock-themed diss, but that qualifies as the most deliciously mean thing we’ve read about Rock of Ages: “[Catherine Zeta-Jones] organizes church groups to shut down the Bourbon and destroy the career of Stacie Jaxx, an alcoholic, terminally stoned, oversexed dope fiend played by a half-nude, tattooed Tom Cruise with extended nipples, black fingernail polish, a pet baboon who mixes his drinks and a lot of hair below his belly button that would, back in the day, have caused a riot at the Hays Office. It’s supposed to be a ‘brave’ example of a fearless actor doing a stretch, but he looks more like an androgynous addict at the New Orleans Mardi Gras who has been spending entirely too much time in the wrong kind of massage parlors.” — Rex Reed, New York Observer