When Rock of Ages was made into a movie, I anticipated Razzie nominations and mocking upon its release. This isn't a movie I should ever consider seeing, said my far-flung movie tastes. And this was coming from somebody who loves the movie version of Mamma Mia!
I don't necessarily know what compelled me to rent Rock of Ages from Netflix, other than the fact that I tend to have dry spells. As in, I want to watch something I've never seen before, and I'm usually up for something different . . . even if it's something I initially found forgettable. No matter how many hair metal songs were in it.
I embrace the fact that hair metal was a crucial element in me appreciating modern rock music when I was a kid. Songs like "Wait," "Here I Go Again," and "Carrie" might have been made into cheesy videos for MTV, but the melodies, polished sound, and somewhat aggressive style certainly helped bridge a gap between James Taylor and Nirvana. I couldn't have understood the importance of Nirvana had it not been for Steelheart, Trixter, and Slaughter.
Rock of Ages is filled with songs that I remembered hearing all the time before I became a teenager. Hair metal was awesome when I was in elementary school, and it was a point of constant mockery in middle school and high school. Now I'm at an age and a truly comfortable place in my life where I openly acknowledge myself as a music enthusiast. Melody and perceived passion weigh heavily into what I react to. Doesn't matter if it's a Jay-Z song, an ABBA song, or a Dillinger Escape Plan song, my tastes are all over the place and unpredictable. So it's not too far-fetched to say that I can enjoy "We Built This City" and "I Wanna Rock" without irony or cringing.
Am I biased in finding enjoyment in songs I loved before puberty struck me? Of course. Did this weigh heavily with finding value in this movie? Absolutely.
With the Rock of Ages movie, I knew there would be lots of sexual innuendo and one-liners, just like all the songs that are featured. A number of the jokes felt flat to me, but that didn't deter me from enjoying the movie. It's probably the best adaptation one could expect from the source material. Really good actors who can sing to various degrees of success, mixed with faithful modern recreations of 80s hits. And given the satire of the PMRC and kid-friendly hip-hop, I couldn't help be pulled in.
I have no illusions how my assessment would fall on deaf ears. This movie isn't Ikiru, nor is it Baby Geniuses. It's entertainment, folks. We have our Nick Drakes and we have our Taylor Swifts. You get to choose what you want to hear and see. Having the choice is better than no choice at all.