A silver screen adaptation of a Broadway show that turned MTV metal into a musical, the original soundtrack to Rock of Ages can’t help but feel like a faded photocopy, but somebody has taken great care to dress those smeared, blurry images in glitter and highlights, the sparkle deriving from a star-studded cast fronted by Tom Cruise. That Tom Cruise has never, ever seemed to connect with rock & roll, particularly of the gutbucket L.A. sleaze variety celebrated here, matters not because Rock of Ages is not for rock & rollers, it's for any number of musical theater geeks who like to dress up and play pretend. Now that the glory days of Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, Bon Jovi, and Poison are firmly in the past -- and thereby no longer carry any sense of sexual danger -- it's totally fine to drape a feather boa around your neck, darken your eyes, harden your heart, and sing along with the songs you know by heart. And that's kind of what squeaky clean Julianne Hough does here -- she pretends she’s a rocker but never can disguise that she'd recoil in horror if a Tommy Lee crossed her path, let alone a Mick Mars. But that's who Rock of Ages is for: the legions who want to pretend to rock, who laugh at the excesses of the past because they're loathe to engage with the present. On film or on-stage it might be easy to get wrapped up in the spectacle, but on record, the candied affectations are too much to bear. Apart from Alec Baldwin, that is. He's funny.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine