I saw the original Broadway play, which was fun, silly and wholly dedicated to some of the worst hair metal and pop of the 1980s. The play sensed your patience and came in at 90 minutes. The movie is an interminable 2 hours and actually adds more awful tunes, playing many of them straight.
The film takes the tongue-in-cheek silliness of the play and reduces it to reverential lip synching and air guitar. I was immediately reminded of Julie Taymor’s underrated Across the Universe, which cut a swath through the 60s with Beatles hits and brilliant, kinetic choreography, and still just came up a little short. Here, we get crappy tunes played with sincerity and nary a dance sequence beyond finger snaps and flash mobs. Alec Baldwin, Paul Giamatti, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta Jones (a zealot Tipper Gore bent on shutting down the latter’s rock and roll world and club in LA) camp their way lazily through this thin flick, with a few winks (isn’t Michael Jackson getting pale?) and not much more. Glee blows this away, and Glee sucks (director Adam Shankman actually graduated from directing this awful film to directing . . . Glee). Tack on the star crossed leads, two nobodies so boring I didn’t bother to look them up for this review, and the disaster is complete. The one star is for Tom Cruise’s turn as Stacee Jaxx, the dissolute rock god, who busts his ass in a lost cause. He always gets an A for effort.