“Grease meets the Rock of the 80’s” by Arthur Cola
It’s the evening of Father’s Day. The festivities are over and I am sitting on the patio with my lap top ready to create this article after having just seen the movie, “Rock of Ages.” Oh, it’s the new patio which my five kids created for me as my gift. I had decided to answer a few e-mails and send out the good news about my new novel, The Brooch,” just being published on Kindle. And lo’ and behold there was an email from the entity of the British Arts Council which is publishing the actual paper format of the book. I’m excited to see how the book will appear, so I take a quick look when my cell phone rings and it’s my son John, the illustrator and cover designer of the book, calling from Florida to wish me a Happy Father’s Day. After the news of the book proof arriving, I went on to orally present what I thought about the movie.
So here it is, my review of “Rock of Ages,” now playing at a cinema near you. “I’m thinking of your older brother, Ron, as the movie began.”
“Why Dad?” asks John.
“Because he played the role of Danny in Grease in the Burlington High School Production of the now classic John Travolta and Olivia Newton John film. And I couldn’t help but think as the film began to roll how I was watching an 80’s version of ‘Grease,’ which was set in the 50’s. That’s not to say that it is a rehash or some kind of copy. Not at all,” I say. “And yet it’s a tale of the tension between “Rockers” and “Do Gooders,” so to speak, similar in fervor to that which took place between the “Greasers” and the “Preppy” kids of the 50’s.”
But I had digressed too far from what I was trying to say. What “Grease” was to those of that generation, “Rock of Ages” will be to the kids who grew up in the 80’s and those very same folks who were their parents during that time period. Most of the people in the cinema today had gray hair. Almost none were teens. Okay that could be because the kids were home with their fathers as it should be. After all I had been with mine and they’re all grown up and two are married and are parents.
As the film continued, I could not help but see that tension, that confrontational nature of two groups, each side thinking that they had the answer. The “Rockers” wanting to preserve their unconventional music as being the order of the day and the “Do Gooders” who wanted to stay loyal to Church type views of what is good or bad music. “Gosh, that’s not too far off of what I had portrayed in my books. One group is seeking to control society by insisting that their view of the world, art, and history as it exists in the present. is the only way to think and the others, who were just as passionate as to see the world and history and art in an enlightened manner in which the past compliments the present. Only for the movie that would be in reverse. The 80’s would compliment the past by taking the roots of Rock and Roll and creating a new rock sound and along with it a life style as well which at times can be rather shocking or outrageous. But that’s the tension within the plot.
Go see this movie because it’s fun and just to see Tom Cruise as a Rock Star doing his own singing is well worth the price of admission. In fact, I’d say a Best Supporting Oscar Nomination should be in his future. And Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand were no slouches in their roles either. Then there’s Paul Giamatti who makes it enjoyable to hate his character. But when Catherine Zeta Jones does her thing in song, she takes over the scene to the delight of the viewer. Now the two star crossed lovers played by young relative newcomers to the big screen, Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, do an admirable job in their roles which parallel those of Danny and Sandy in “Grease.” I loved the changes in Julianne’s character from an Oklahoma innocent girl and the “Rocker” character of Diego. I could illuminate how that transition takes place, but go see the movie. It’s more fun that way. I will say that the Director Adam Shankman stretched one’s ability to accept his portrayal of Diego’s character change.
But it’s an entertaining two hours. And for those of us who have lived through the various changes in the music scene over the decades, it will bring smiles and oohs and aahs, especially when the musical numbers are performed.
I’m thinking that Diego and Julianne might work out really well as two of the characters from my book when it’s made into a movie one day, but not too far away I hope or they will be too mature.
“Rock of Ages” may not be a solid rendition of the development of Rock Music but it’s a fun time.