Anyone can tell you if a trailer "looks good" or not. But Drew Magary, who spent over a decade working in advertising, is here to tell you whether or not a trailer WORKS. This week's trailer? "Rock of Ages".
Ever since we got that first official photo of Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx for the movie "Rock of Ages," we've been curious as to what the final product is gonna look like. Because let's face it: the idea of Cruise starring in a musical that turns him into a rock icon is pretty much an invitation to parody. This movie will either suck, or it will suck so hard that it somehow ends up being fantastic. There's no in between. This is not a movie that's going to just come and go quietly. It's going to be NOTICED. The question is whether or not it will be noticed for the right or wrong reasons. Am I wrong to hope that it's a spectacularly bad film? Because that IS what I'm praying for. Let's take a look at the first official trailer and answer a few questions.
Does the trailer let us know what the movie's about? No. But to be fair to the trailer, I think it's pretty clear that this movie isn't going to be about much of anything. Apparently, Alec Baldwin (with long hair!) is running a hot rock club that's in danger of being shut down by Catherine Zeta-Jones' Tipper Gore character. The only thing that will save him? You guessed it: ROCK GOD TOMMY CRUISE. That looks to be the extent of the plot. The rest of the movie looks like one big run of 80s nostalgia porn, like "200 Cigarettes" and a million other average movies. Because Lord knows VH1 didn't ruin my appetite for 80s nostalgia porn.
Does Cruise sing in this trailer? No! What a rip.
Does Cruise rock Axl's headband in this trailer? He does! And he looks almost as silly in it as Axl did.
Does everyone go around talking about how sexy and awesome Cruise is in the trailer? Of course. That's standard in any Cruise movie at this point. Does the movie make Tom look daring and adored? If the answer is YES, then you've got yourself a green light.
But wait! Is Cruise even the star of this movie? It sure doesn't look to be that way. It looks like your stars are Diego Somebody and the girl from Footloose, who has apparently cornered the market on recycled 80s material.
Is there all sorts of inspirational talk about the magic of music? Will "That stage is a pedestal" work for you? It will? Good.
Is there a dueling medley sequence using "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "We Built This City"? There is, and it's every bit as awful as it sounds. This is where the trailer lost me. I mean... really? That's what you're selling me? Dee Snider versus Starship? And the good guys are the ones singing the Starship song? Does anything about that make sense to you? Every snippet of music you hear in the movie is essentially a "Glee"-ified version of a classic hair band song. It's clear that some studio exec looked at "Glee" two years ago and was like, "Gimme a movie like that!" And then the movie got made just as America began to realize that "Glee" is awful, and now this is what we're stuck with.
Is there any hope? Paul Giamatti plays a scumbag! That might help!
Is Russell Brand in this pile somewhere? You know he is.
What classic bands get ripped off in this movie? Def Leppard, Poison, Foreigner, Journey, REO Speedwagon, and Twisted Sister. And Starship. Because Starship was so rocking, I guess.
Does this trailer work? No. It's a recycled movie made from a recycled musical with a recycled plot using recycled songs. Why would I plunk down $10 to listen to "Sister Christian" when I can listen to it at home? Or used to more dramatic effect in a film like "Boogie Nights"? The only reason to see "Rock of Ages" is for the novelty of hearing Cruise sing, but the trailer can't even promise that. All it can promise is that it's yet another movie designed specifically to make Tom Cruise look good.