This week in See This Not That, we take a look at two movies that feature people rocking. Or at least attempting to rock. In one corner, we have little kids who actually play instruments and are the BEST in "School of Rock." In the other corner, there are a bunch of movie stars pretending they're cool in "Rock of Ages." Guess who brings the noise?
See 'School of Rock'
This 2003 musical comedy directed by Richard Linklater is the film that made everyone think Jack Black could be a movie star. And to be fair, he totally was! For a little bit! The film tracks Black's deadbeat-ish Dewey Finn, who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prep school after getting kicked out of his band. Though he starts out encouraging the kids in 5th grade class to compete in the Battle of the Bands so he can pay off his rent, he eventually becomes invested in the ragtag group of adorable kids, and eventually they all open an afterschool program called the School of Rock. Okay, so the kids don't open it, 'cause they're kids. but they definitely attend it.
The film opened at #1, boasting a 92% Certified Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, and was praised for its great performances, humor, joy, appeal to all ages, tight script and the fact that it was genuinely inspirational. Oh, and there is a real School of Rock in 98 locations in the US, which often have performances open for anyone to attend. Rock on.
Not 'Rock of Ages'
This 2012 musical comedy directed by Adam Shankman is the film that proves once and for all that Tom Cruise is no longer a movie star. It comes out on DVD today — hooray? The film is based on the 2006 Broadway musical "Rock of Ages," which still runs six years later to great acclaim. Unfortunately for everyone involved in this train wreck, that quality didn't exactly translate to the silver screen. Although the film attempted to have real musical talent by casting Julianne Hough ("Dancing with the Stars") and Diego Boneta ("Pretty Little Liars") as the leads, their bland, chemistry-free performances didn't do anyone any favors.
Although many critics did actually like Tom Cruise's outlandish performance as rock star Stacee Jaxx, at the end of the day, it's Tom Cruise in makeup trying to get people to like him, just like in "Tropic Thunder," and it's all a little bit desperate and icky. While the music is pretty across the board fantastic if you're into '80s rock, there is no reason on Earth, or beyond Earth, to buy this soundtrack over the original Broadway recording, unless you enjoy making your ears sad. This pandering, bloated and underdeveloped film has a 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, and there is no reason why any of us should waste our time with it.