Welcome to my newest feature: The Weekly WTF, where we examine the week’s most perplexing story in entertainment news. In this week’s WTF, we take a look at perplexing developments in Hollywood casting; specifically, the decision to cast Tom Cruise in a a comic role.
So, first of all, mini WTF: Hollywood is turning the Broadway musical Rock of Ages into a movie. Some words about Rock of Ages for those of you who haven’t seen it: It is funny. If you’re 30-50 years-old, and you’ve got some proper nostalgia for 1980s hair metal and a bit of a bawdy sense of humor, you need to get yourself to the theatre, because this show is a damn good time.
However. The story sucks. The first act is cliched, but fine: Girl runs away from home to L.A. She steps off the bus out into the city streets. Just a small town girl with her whole life packed in a suitcase by her feet. She meets the aspiring rock star who sweeps the floor at the local club. They have sweetly awkward interactions with one another involving wine coolers because it is, after all, 1987. Things are looking positive for our burgeoning couple, until jerk-face successful rock star rolls into town and steals the small town girl from the lovable wannabe rock star.
We’re all good to this point. People like familiar frameworks, and what could be more familiar than the old girl-torn-between-hot-asshole-and-lovable-sap story arc? The jokes are awesome. The songs are great. We’re having a good time. It’s intermission, and we all get up to go to the bathroom — because, I should mention, they serve booze during this show. Which is great in theory, but causes some problems in reality. Especially in the reality that occurs in a Broadway theatre that was built in 1926, a time in which it would not be unreasonable to assume, based on the facilities, that women didn’t have to go to the bathroom. There were seriously, like, four stalls. It was painful.
Anyhow. We return, relieved and refreshed, to our seats. We decline the offer from our male companions for another beer, and we settle in for the second act … at which point the story just goes to hell. The main focus becomes an effort by Big Business to buy out the rock club. Somehow it’s saved and the right people fall in love and we all live happily ever after. I don’t know. It all reminded me of one of Nick Hornby‘s more recent novels: The words and the jokes are great. You’re sitting there in the moment, just loving what’s happening. But if you take a step back and absorb the bigger picture, it’s gestunken.
So yes. I’m a little perplexed that somebody thought this could become a successful movie. And it’s not going to be some ramshackle production, either: Adam Shankman is on board to direct. The loathsome Alec Baldwin is rumored to be in talks to play the club owner. Anne Hathaway and GOOP’s Gwyneth Paltrow were allegedly being considered to play the role of the small town girl, which ultimately went to Julianna Hough (about whom I know not enough to say anything snarky … seriously people, click the links). And, of course, there’s Tom fucking Cruise in the role of jerk-face rock star Stacee Jaxx. Here’s what James Carpinello, who originated the role on Broadway looked like:
The genius of the character is the same genius of all comic bad guys: He’s likable. Even while he’s stealing the small town girl right out from under our doofy wanna-be rock star hero’s nose, you like Stacee Jaxx. You get why the small town girl is swept away by his rock star charm, and you don’t mind that he succeeds for awhile in winning her heart because you know that she’ll ultimately end up in the arms of Constantine Maroulis (a dubious happy ending, if ever there were one) because we’ve seen this story before.
But if there’s a word I wouldn’t ever use to describe Tom Cruise, it’s “likable”. He’s more or less the opposite of likable. He’s also not funny, not rock and roll, and way too old to play the part. And he’s so fucking creepy that I’m too distracted by my skin crawling all over the place whenever I see him to pay attention to anything else that’s happening anywhere in his vicinity.
Who thought this was a good idea? Who thought any of this was a good idea, really?? Maybe — MAYBE! — if they’d gone the Rent route and collected the original Broadway cast and tightened up the storyline a little, MAYBE it could work. But a bunch of A-list celebrities in a high-budget Hollywood production about hair metal in 1987? It just doesn’t make sense. I mean, I hope I’m wrong, because I liked the show, and I adore Adam Shankman. But I don’t know. This all just sounds like a bad idea. Tune in next year — the movie is slated for a 2012 release — to find out, I guess.