*There are no real spoilers in this review, just some minor plot details.
I had the privilege of being able to see this at an advance screening a couple of months ago. Just to let you know, I have never seen the Broadway show, so I can't compare the two.
On one hand, Tom Cruise stole the show as he always does. He plays the role of aging rocker Stacee Jaxx, tasked with saving the Bourbon Room from the villainous Patricia Whitmore's (Zeta-Jones) wrath. He has a killer voice, and he shared some great chemistry with journalist Constance Sack (Malin Akerman). I think everybody is going to love those two together.
On the other hand, the two lovebirds Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) and Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) just did not bring a lot of chemistry. And their acting ability is so far inferior to the likes of the Cruises, Baldwins, and the Giamattis of the world. And when they are the leads, it kind of brings down the movie a little bit. The singing was great, but isn't that the standard for musicals? I would've preferred Brittany Snow be cast alongside the original Drew Constantine Maroulis. Even though I have not seen the original play live, I've seen numerous of his performances either live or on the computer.
Another critique I have is that the whole thing is a little too much. This film felt a little busy to me. I almost wish someone would have told Adam Shankman to tone it down a little because it fizzled a little towards the end.
The musical numbers in were just incredible. As someone in the younger generation, I don't believe I could appreciate the the 80s music as much as the people born in the later 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s. But, make no mistake, every single number was executed pretty well. I happened to like the performances more than Shankman's previous musical, Hairspray.
It was legitimately funny. Even if you don't like Tom Cruise personally, he kills it in every movie he's in. His scenes are the best. I was also impressed by the performances of Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, and Paul Giamatti. Even singer Mary J. Blige got involved.
This is a movie that is some big time fun. It's not for everybody, as the person sitting next to me reminded me of. But if you liked Shankman's Hairspray, then you'll probably have a place for this one in your heart too.
Kudos to Adam Shankman and Chris D'Arenzio (creater) for achieving what they wanted to accomplish.