Way way back many centuries ago, I reviewed the original Off Broadway production of the musical Rock of Ages for Variety magazine. Based on the premise, I thought it would suck: A musical about headbangers in the 80s on L.A.’s Sunset Strip? And all the songs are hair-metal classics like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Love Rock and Roll?” Obviously, it was going to be a cheesy tourist trap, seducing innocent people with promises of Journey and Styx.
But then… whoops! I was wrong. Rock of Ages is an amazing show. The script is really funny—witty and surprising—and the story of small-town kids making it in the music industry is surprisingly touching. As I said in my review, “[The creators] know their material is just for fun, but they don’t suggest they’re superior to it. They invite us to laugh with ’80s rock ‘n’ rollers instead of at them.”
The show was a big hit. It eventually moved to Broadway (where it’s still running after several years) and an all-star film version arrives on June 5, featuring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, and a million delicious wigs. While I was hesitant about the stage version, I am crazy excited for the movie. I can already taste the campy, campy joy.
The trailers have convinced me that the movie gets the tone just right. Alec Baldwin alone makes me laugh, and it doesn’t hurt that Tom Cruise looks skanky-sexy as an Axl Rose-like rock star named Stacee Jaxx. I want to french him while he spills a beer down my back.
And now the movie has dropped its first music video: Mary J. Blige—as a strip club manager named Justice, for God’s sake—belting the hell out of “Any Way You Want It.” Take a look:
The video is mostly short scenes from the movie, and the editing is a hyperactive and distracting, but there are still reasons to be happy. For one, it’s great to hear Blige spank a rock song. Her voice sounds completely different than it usually does—clear and pure instead of raspy and soulful—and she still kills it.
And obviously, we have to celebrate images like this:
Any movie that delivers good singing and hairdo realness is alright by me.