Once upon a time, thanks to Ian Dury and two members of the Blockheads, we had a music single called Sex, Drugs & Rock N’ Roll. The song was written and produced in 1977. At the time of its release, this song didn’t do much business. But the critics liked it. From there, with an assist from Axel Rose of Guns N’ Roses in the 1980′s, it became a staple of punk rock, and beyond that it became symbolic of an era, as well as an alternate lifestyle.
In 2012, the terms Sex, Drugs, & Rock N’ Roll might still be in the public consciousness, but more likely to be heard these days is Sweat, Ear-Splitting Music, & Puke. That’s a quote from Dennis Dupree, the fictional owner of a fictional rock club, The Bourbon Room, located on the famed Sunset Strip, in Hollywood circa 1987. This club, its employees and its patrons are in a film called Rock of Ages which opened in theaters across the country yesterday, June 15th, 2012.
Adapted from the musical of the same name (book by Chris D’Arienzo) and still playing on Broadway and theatrical venues elsewhere, Rock of Ages is what you might call a Jukebox Movie Musical. The difference between a Musical and a Jukebox Musical is that a musical has its own original music, while the jukebox version has music originally created by others and not specifically for the production.
Showcasing some of the best-loved and most popular rock music from the 80′s, the film, Rock of Ages has at its center a group of slender stories stitched together. We have the story of a struggling rock venue, The Bourbon Room, a club modeled after the Whiskey-A-Go-Go on Sunset Strip. Club Owner Dennis Dupree (Alec Baldwin has the role) is looking at serious problems including problems with the IRS over back taxes. He’s also facing the wrath of the conservative wife of LA’s Mayor, one Patricia Whitmore, a Tipper Gore type, portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones. She and her cohorts believe that The Bourbon Room, and other clubs of the same stripe, and the Strip itself, are far too decadent to be tolerated. She’s out to shut them down.
There is a newcomer in town, literally moments and steps off the bus from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She’s Sherrie Christian and is played by Julianne Hough. In her first few minutes in town, she’s mugged by a snatch and grab artist which resulted in the loss of her only suitcase. This event was witnessed by one Drew Boley, who happens to work in the bar at The Bourbon Room, and he gets her a job as waittress at the club. All in the film’s first five minutes. Welcome to LA, honey.
Not coincidentally both Sherrie and Drew (played by Diego Boneta) are aspiring singers. Also as you might expect, they’re going to fall in love.