Rock of Ages: What a marvelous musical-comedy cast they’ve assembled to star in a film by Adam Shankman, a choreographer who directed the movie-of-the-musical-of-the-movie Hairspray with great enthusiasm and not a lot of competence. In fact, my dominant memory of Hairspray comes not from the peppy, game performances that I can recall if I think harder, but several shots during major musical numbers that left me wondering what is this supposed to be a shot of?! Maybe Shanks has improved in the years since, or maybe the spectacle of Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, the chick from the new Footloose, Malin Akerman, and a monkey all interacting and belting out cheesy 80s songs will be enough to distract from the actual filmmaking (I’m excluding Catherine Zeta-Jones because I’m pretty convinced from the trailer that she’s going to be hamming it up like there’s no tomorrow, playing one of those caricature-of-a-caricature parts that probably fancies itself satire). Then again, my patience for I-loooove-the-80s real-rock-and-roll-is-just-Broadway-with-more-entendres bullshit isn’t exactly sky-high, either. Does it sound like I have a chip on my shoulder about this movie? I don’t really mean to. I like musicals and I’d rather pay fourteen bucks for the Hollywood version than sixty or seventy for cheap seats to Broadway’s rock-concert-for-tools version.
Also, a plea: if you want to see this movie, please check it out at the Ziegfeld Theatre in midtown, whose May-long darkness does not bode well for its long-term future. It may not be near anywhere you usually hang out, but it’s the flat-out prettiest, most elegant big screen in the city, and it would be a shame if a floundering Clearview sold it off to become a Century 21, or even a Broadway stage playing Rock of Ages.
That’s My Boy: For your edification, my continuing study of the works of Adam Sandler continues with an actual review of this movie. Bonus commentary that didn’t make the review:
-If that wasn’t enough Sandler talk for one review, here’s an informal ranking of Sandler’s Happy Madison comedies! The first tier is composed of The Wedding Singer, Happy Gilmore, and Billy Madison. The next is topped by You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (to such a degree that it may deserve first-tier positioning), followed by Little Nicky, That’s My Boy, Mr. Deeds, The Waterboy, and Big Daddy. Then the lazy but not unwatchable, occasionally interesting 50 First Dates, Click, and Anger Management. Finally, the increasingly populated lowest and laziest tier headed up by Jack and Jill along with Eight Crazy Nights, Bedtime Stories, Just Go With It, The Longest Yard, and Grown Ups. I still haven’t seen I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry [Nathan Lee really liked it! -Ed.].
-As I mention in the review, That’s My Boy has plenty of SNL alumni in the cast: counting Sandler, I believe there are five, which puts the movie about on par with The Longest Yard (four); close to Grown Ups (seven); but nowhere near Coneheads territory (about a dozen; can’t wait for the twentieth anniversary re-release next summer!). But what a blessed goddamn relief that beyond stars Sandler and Samberg, those roles are filled by Will Forte, Rachel Dratch, and Ana Gasteyer rather than Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Rob Schneider in blackface, or something.
-That said, though he has an amusing supporting role, any movie like this could use more Forte. I believe it was Chekov who said: one must not make reference to a Will Forte character attending rageaholic treatment if no one is thinking of giving him a scene where he rages out and screams until the vein in his forehead bulges.
-I haven’t seen Rock of Ages, but it’s entirely possible that That’s My Boy has just as many dope-rock 80s anthems; it’s also entirely possible that it actually manages slightly more indie cred because it does also use “Unsatisfied” by the Replacements in one emotional scene [Adventureland did it first. -Ed.]. Another thing this movie apparently has in common with Rock of Ages: Will Forte. Basically, if you love the worst version of the 80s and Will Forte but don’t have the MacGruber DVD handy, this may be an okay weekend for you to go to the movies.
-It has become impossible for me to write a review of a Sandler movie without using the word “lazy,” often multiple times, so I thank That’s My Boy for allowing me to use it slightly less this week.
Your Sister’s Sister: For those of you who already saw Safety Not Guaranteed and are too antsy to wait until the 6/29 release of People Like Us for Mark Duplass, you’re in luck: Duplass ahoy! He plays a guy recovering from the death of his brother, somehow involved with his brother’s ex (Emily Blunt) and/or her sister (Rosemarie Dewitt). Lynn Shelton directs and sorta-writes this semi-improvised comedy presumably in the vein of her enjoyable Humpday from a couple of years ago.