Small-town girl, livin’ in a lonely world Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) arrives in Los Angeles circa 1987 with twinkle-eyed dreams of stardom and less than 20 bucks to her name. Within minutes of stepping off the bus, she meets bartender-cum-aspiring-musician Drew Boley (Diego Boneta), who gets her a waitressing job at the Bourbon Room, a rock-music haven likely on its last legs. Romance blossoms—in a Tower Records, no less, where the hot-to-trot duo belts out a mash-up medley of “Juke Box Hero” and “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll.” But admit it: You’re not coming to Adam Shankman’s peppy screen adaptation of the popular Broadway jukebox musical for the vapid fresh faces. (As singing lovers go, these two are less Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious than one of those insipid warbling duos who sapped the energy out of many a Marx Brothers movie.) You’re here to see a bunch of game A-listers play celebrity karaoke with the ’80s glam-band tunes of Def Leppard, Journey, Twisted Sister and others.
On that front, this spiritedly superficial movie delivers more often than not, as the wispy plot—revolving around a save-the-venue performance by satanic rocker Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise)—allows for a series of headbanging set pieces. Moralistic mayor’s wife Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones) kicks it to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”; Bourbon Room owners Dennis (Alec Baldwin) and Lonny (Russell Brand) do a hilarious romantic duet to REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling”; and a creepily in-character Cruise comes damn close to actual pathos with his longing cover of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.” Fans of Moulin Rouge–esque repurposing will be in hog heaven. Everyone else will want to hop that midnight train going anywhere pronto.
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