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FLICKS: Rock of Ages & The Dictator

Posted on 20 June 2012 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


When Rock of Ages began production in South Florida, I was happy that this film was boosting the local film industry. At the Buck’s 30-year reunion last summer, Don Abbatiello showed me pictures of his stunt work in the film. With this kind of perspective, it is hard to dislike Rock of Ages, much like it is hard to hate locally-filmed movies like Hoot, Caddyshack and Body Heat.

Rock of Ages is no Marvel’s The Avengers or Prometheus, but is a two-hour revival of 1980s MTV, complete with sizzling guitars and big hair Stealing some plot lines from Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musicals, Rock of Ages introduces us to a pretty blonde from Oklahoma, played by Julianne Hough.

She skips into Los Angeles and meets a young man her age played by Diego Boneta, a singer who works for the proprieters of The Bourbon Room (played by Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand). The Bourbon Room will host the final performance of Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise), a rock god who has seen better days.

Clichés pile up when socalled political conservatives (Bryan Cranston, Catherine Zeta-Jones) want to censor the heavy metal rock star and close down The Bourbon Room. The only cliché missing would be a Mickey Rooney cameo during the sappy climax.

The Dictator is a rude, crude and socially unacceptable contrast to Rock of Ages. This is another politically incorrect comedy from Sacha Baron Cohen.

Unlike his serio-documentary comedies, The Dictator hires actors like Sayed Badreya, Ben Kingsley and Anna Faris, who hopefully know that they are playing fictitious characters. There are genuine belly laughs from the exhibitionist Cohen, but the laughs are more shocking than humorous.

Given the low budget of The Dictator, the film has earned back its production budget; it is doing better overseas than in America. Yet, one wonders if Cohen’s comedies have reached the point of diminishing returns, like Adam Sandler. Ten years ago, Adam Sandler was a box office god; his recent film, That’s My Boy, was a Father’s Day box office disaster last weekend.

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