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This Week at the Movies

'Rock of Ages' is more American Idol than Billy Idol and 'That's My Boy' is a train wreck.

If watching celebrities sing karaoke is your idea of a good time, then “Rock of Ages” could be the movie for you. All others need not apply.

The film, which is based on the Broadway musical, attempts to make up for in energy what it lacks in originality.

Its cast includes former “American Idol” contestant Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti and Tom Cruise, all of whom get the chance to belt out a variety of 1980s heavy metal hits and power ballads.

The plot of “Rock of Ages” is obviously torn straight from the lyrics of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which is the movie’s final number.

Hough plays Sherrie Christian, as in “Oh Sherrie” and “Sister Christian,” who just happens to be a small town girl taking the midnight bus to Hollywood to become a rock ‘n’ roll star.

Once there, she meets city boy Drew (Diego Boneta), who works as a bartender at a famed Los Angeles nightclub where rock stars congregate. Whether he was born and raised in South Detroit is never mentioned.

The duo falls in love, attempts to break into L.A.’s scene and makes friends with a variety of characters, including two nightclub owners (Baldwin and Russell Brand), a strip club owner (Mary J. Blige) and mega star Stacee Jaxx (an inspired Tom Cruise, sporting long hair and palling around with a monkey named Hey Man).

Bryan Cranston and Zeta-Jones play a mayoral hopeful and his crusader wife, respectively, who attempt to build their campaign on promises of cleaning up Sunset Strip.

The good news about “Rock of Ages” is that it offers a smorgasbord of tunes to which you can hum along, including music by Guns ’N Roses, Foreigner, Night Ranger, Journey, Poison, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Twisted Sister.

The bad news is that many of the songs are awkwardly scrunched together in medleys and delivered in “American Idol”-style vocals.

“Rock of Ages” has a few charming scenes, but they are few and far between in the film’s two-hours-plus running time.

On the other hand, a few charms can go a long way, especially when faced with the prospect of sitting through the abysmal “That’s My Boy,” which is further proof that the Adam Sandler train has run completely off the track.

I’m not a Sandler basher. I found several of his earliest pictures, “Happy Gilmore” included, to be hilariously juvenile. And I was sincerely impressed by his turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s marvelous “Punch Drunk Love.”

But in recent years, Sandler’s films have taken a noticeable turn for the worse. Check out this roster and tell me you don’t agree: “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” “Grown Ups,” “Just Go With It” and “Jack and Jill.”

I’m sorry to say, but “That’s My Boy” could be the worst yet.

In the film, Sandler contributes yet another man-child to his cinematic canon in the form of Donnie Berger, a buffoon who achieved childhood celebrity by fathering a baby with his middle school teacher, but has since fallen on hard times financially.

He sees an opportunity to get back on track by seeking out his long-lost, ridiculously named son Han Solo (Andy Samberg), a successful realtor who is about to get married.

In an obvious attempt to be edgier, Sandler and company have pushed the limits of the ‘R’ rating with “That’s My Boy.” All manner of bodily fluids make an appearance, as do Vanillla Ice, a horny grandmother and a scene involving incest.

The script is so flimsy that, at times, it appears that cast members are simply winging it, while most of the jokes fall completely flat.

I’d be interested in seeing Sandler branch out to something new as he once did with “Punch Drunk Love.” And I’m hoping “That’s My Boy” acts as a career wakeup call.

Both "Rock of Ages" and "That's My Boy" are playing at Douglaston's Movie World.

Michael Feiner June 18, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Although I have not seen either movie, I understand when you say "Rock of Ages" consists of "watching celebrities sing karaoke." To be honest, any decent operator of a karaoke machine can make a singer sound fantastic. As for "That's my Boy," I've been entertained through the years by Adam Sandler and will see the movie one of these days.

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