Why It's a Bad Idea to Cast Tom Cruise and Anne Hathaway in Rock of Ages
Right, I know: There's no way anyone can ruin Rock of Ages. After all, the Adam Shankman-directed film is based on the trashy, Tony-nominated musical (!) of the same name -- the only Broadway show where a person can walk down the aisle carrying four cans of Coors Light without drawing a second glance. (Not that I know anything about that particular example.) It's basically ruin-proof. Unless, of course, you decide to load up the supporting roles with some of the most famous stars in the world.
Hot on the heels of Tom Cruise agreeing to co-star in Rock of Ages as Stacie Jaxx, the flamboyant lead singer of Arsenal, Deadline reports that Anne Hathaway is in talks to portray a rock journalist in the film. This comes after news that Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand were circling the roles of Dennis and Lonnie, the two men in charge of The Bourbon, the Los Angeles rock club where most of the action in the film takes place. Those are four heavy-hitting actors, and four A-listers who I really enjoy seeing on the big screen. And yet, what in the Twisted Sister are they doing in Rock of Ages.
Let me explain: This is a musical that starred the sixth runner-up from American Idol; not to knock the Tony-nominated Constantine Maroulis (who, to be fair, is wonderful in Rock of Ages), but he's not really synonymous with the A-list. Or the B-list. Or any list. He's just Constantine, and he worked so well as the lead because it isn't hard to imagine the Brooklyn-born singer heading West with the hope of fronting a Def Leppard cover band. You wouldn't expect to see a guy like him rubbing elbows with an over-acting Tom Cruise. You wouldn't expect his character to either.
(Which brings up the question: Who will play the Constantine role in the movie? At this rate, why not just cast Chris Pine or Taylor Lautner and get it over with.)
The schlock Rock of Ages sells is a delicate balance of nostalgia, cheese, and meta-irony. It's like the musical version of air quotes -- Ages breaks the fourth wall so many times, audience members might as well consider themselves extras. It doesn't need air quotes around its air quotes. This is a genuinely silly musical -- nothing but a good time, as it were -- and the idea of Cruise and Hathaway spending the length of their screen-time trading winks and being even more silly than the material (which, be honest, you kind of have to assume they will be) is a bit like throwing a slice of pizza on top of a sundae. To put it another way: Rock of Ages is not a musical in desperate need of any more tongue in its cheek, and Cruise and Hathaway are all tongue.
Don't take my word for it though -- watch the Stacie Jaxx scene from the show, and just try and picture Tom Cruise doing it justice. Or "justice." Whatever. It's Friday.