The problem with the new Rock Of Ages trailer isn’t that it’s horrible, but that it’s damningly mediocre. We can read this even in the styling of the titles—the first thing we see in the trailer—which are a little bit Drive, a little bit Enter The Void, but don’t have the boldness or freshness of either. Of course, why would the trailer need to be bold or fresh when it’s got a built-in audience of hair metal and jukebox musical fans? Here at last we arrive at the spike-studded crux of the issue.
Of course Rock Of Ages does hold some surprises in its stunt casting, which mostly involves taking some of our most talented actors (Alec Baldwin, Paul Giamatti), and decking them out in silly wigs. Baldwin delivers the trailer’s first line, about how the rock club (where the bulk of the musical takes place), “is about to become a sea of sweat, ear-shattering music, and puke.” What follows is decidedly neither sweaty, nor pukey, nor ear-shattering, and sounds in fact more like a bloodless Rock Band cover turned down so as to not wake up the parents.
Did I mention that Tom Cruise is in this? Because the trailer doesn’t mention this until almost two minutes in. If you watch closely you can see him earlier though! You just have to figure out how to peer through the shaggy hair, the lowered cowboy cap, and the Rolling Stone magazine cover that are variously positioned directly in front of his face. Cruise is actually the best thing in the trailer, letting his hair down, wheeling his arms around, and generally doing his best Frank T.J. Mackey (still perhaps his finest role). It’s too little, too late, and by declining to be provocative the trailer provokes perhaps the most damning reaction of all: “Meh.”