I never watch a trailer until after I’ve seen the movie, and I also attempt to avoid as much news as possible. Then I compare what I knew, to what you knew. Let’s find out if what we see in the trailer is what we get, and if there is any advantage to going in fresh. (There will be spoilers.)
What I Knew Before: I knew it had something to do with a singer in a smokey room, with the smell of wine and cheap perfume. The singer in question is none other than Stacee Jaxx (technically I didn't know how to spell that name until after I saw the film). This is one of those films where I sat through the trailer twice in the theater. You may be saying to yourself, "I thought you aren't supposed to WATCH the trailers, Jeff." I didn't watch. I closed my eyes and hummed a little. Yes, I'm serious. So, this is what I knew … Stacee Jaxx had to play in a club singing '80s "hits," otherwise Alec Baldwin was doomed. Yes, I knew Jaxx was played by Tom Cruise and it was based on the Broadway play. That's it. Nothing else.
What I Knew After: Well, well, well, this train wreck didn't just have Cruise and Baldwin, it also stars Russell Brand, Bryan Cranston, Paul Giamatti, Malin Akerman and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Here's the kicker: none of those very talented actors are the leads. When you sit down to watch this movie, you need to know that it's Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough's film. I don't know who either of those people are, but you could easily convince me Hough was the runner-up on America's Idol Talent.
The story, songs, and romance are all incredibly lame when in the hands on these two. It's seriously boring and a complete waste of time. The problem is, Cruise is amazing, and Baldwin is too. Random question: Whenever you picture Baldwin, he's wearing a suit, right? Well, not in this flick. When Cruise or Baldwin are present, the film is a comedy and works quite well. They are only in it a third of the time. Otherwise, it's back to a boring musical. If you truly love the music of the '80s, your soul won't allow you to enjoy this film. After all, Broadway and Rock 'n' Roll aren't allowed to have sex, even though they constantly try in this film. That's not just a play on words, this is the most sexual PG-13 film I've ever seen. I'll bet you anything the trailer showcases the all-star cast and doesn't let you know you're spending the majority of your time with Boneta and Hough. Let's find out.
What You Knew: On screen: THIS SUMMER. GET READY TO ROCK. TO A NEW KIND OF MUSICAL. There are tons of scantily clad people prancing around until we land on Mary J. Blige. Sigh. I forget to mention Blige was in the film, because she's part of the biggest waste of time. On Screen: FROM THE DIRECTOR OF HAIRSPRAY. I'll go on record and say I liked Hairspray and Mamma Mia more than this film. We meet Stacee Jaxx, Baldwin's aged rocker and a baboon named Hey Man.
Finally, 52 seconds into the film we see our leads in a record store (kids, go find an adult to explain to you what that is). Baldwin explains to the blonde that she's got real talent. Baldwin makes jokes about vomiting in his pants. Giamatti proves he's an "evil" manager (is there any other kind in the movies?). There is a lot of singing montages, and then there is a ton of Cruise singing "Wanted Dead or Alive." More Baldwin jokes, and then Rock of Ages explains to you what you already heard. On screen: FEATURING THE MUSIC OF DEF LEPPARD, FOREIGNER, JOURNEY, POISON, TWISTED SISTER.
Trailer Truth: This is false advertising. The main reason I feel like screaming that from the mountain tops is that Cruise and Baldwin are not the leads. The trailer wants you to believe otherwise. The other reason is, there isn't much joy in the film. Hairspray managed to have consistent fun. Rock of Ages has no clue it's a comedy unless Cruise, Akerman, Baldwin or Brand are on screen. Otherwise it's a drag. Cruise is able to actually get some non-comedic emotion out of "Wanted Dead or Alive" but everything else should be laughable, it's just not treated as such.
Remember that moment where Baldwin explains to the blonde that she's got real talent? He's actually making fun on her in the film when he says this. They leave out the part where Boneta's character joins a boy band. The fact that they want us to laugh at a boy band, but not at overly choreographed, lip-synced rock songs is the perfect showcase as to why this film fails. The trailer is trying to mislead you into thinking the stars shine brightly all the way through. It's not true.