POSTED June 13 2012

Tom Cruise, rocker of ages

Tom Cruise in "Rock of Ages"

It seems fitting — make that foreordained — that Tom Cruise plays dissolute 1980s music legend Stacie Jaxx in Rock of Ages. Since his breakthrough role in Risky Business he has been rehearsing a rock star’s moves and attitude. For much of the 1980s, the hallmark of a Cruise performance was the actor singing and dancing to a classic-rock cut. It made him Everyguy-relatable.

Consider his rendition of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock’n’Roll” in Risky Business, clad in shirt, socks and tidy whities. Or singing and swinging to Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” in Top Gun, as Kelly McGillis and Meg Ryan looked on. Or dancing and mixing it up to Chan Romeo’s “Hippy Hippy Shake” in his role as a “flair bartender” alongside Bryan Brown in Cocktail. Or wielding his cue like a samurai sword to Warren Zevon’s “Werewolf of London” in The  Color of Money (in moves that presage his role as The Last Samurai). Or famously booty-shaking to Ludracis’ “Get Back” in the credits sequence of Tropic Thunder. 

In the otherwise meh Rock of Ages — a movie that takes a full two hours to dramatize the opening lyrics of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” — Cruise is raffishly entertaining.

Given all the rock-musical cues in Cruise films, my favorite is in Jerry Maguire (his best role) when the sports agent, anxious about losing his biggest clients, turns on the car radio to hear Tom Petty’s “Free Falling.” A close second is his insidious transformation into a nineball beast in The Color of Money, stroking his pompadour and proclaiming, along with Zevon’s lyrics, “His hair was perfect.” Your favorite Cruise musical moment? Movie?


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