Tom Cruise is rockin hot in ‘Rock of Ages’

I’m not a big Tom Cruise fan, though many in the Hollywood Jewish community adore the guy.

But when I saw this photo I thought, wow, he has an impressive…acting range. I’m not kidding; you can see how ‘in character’ he is from this “Rock of Ages” still and I always find it refreshing when a movie star can get lost in a character. Cruise is, unfortunately (well not that unfortunately, he’s doing just fine) one of those actors whose celebrity is so powerful and pervasive, it often usurps his ability to transform into a character. When one’s fame is so grandiose, it tends to compromise an audience’s ability to believe a movie star is anyone other than themselves (see: Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, Brad Pitt etc). When we “know” celebrities too well from tabloid coverage and US Weekly photos, it becomes difficult to know them as the character they’re playing. On the other hand, it works to their (and our) advantage because then we’ll go see them in a big summer Blockbuster irrespective of whether or not the film has any artistic merit whatsoever.

But I digress.

So what do we know about “Rock of Ages” (besides the fact that it’s a Hanukkah song)?

For one, it was a hit Broadway musical featuring the music of awesome 80s talents like Journey, Styx, Bon Jovi and Pat Benatar, which is reason enough to pre-purchase your movie ticket asap. The tagline, “A small-town girl arrives in Hollywood at the height of the 1980s rock-music scene” should give you the gist of the story but if you want the play-by-play, check Wikipedia, though I warn you it’s full of spoilers.

In addition to a high-octane cast—Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti and Bryan Cranston to name a few—the film is being directed by Adam Shankman, the director/producer/choreographer of 2007’s “Hairspray”, a modern redux of John Waters’s 1988 cult classic. Shankman also directed and choreographed the 2010 Oscar cast hosted by Hugh Jackman which featured plenteous splashy musical numbers but ultimately failed to inspire.

Shankman grew up living the good Jewish life in Brentwood, though he told the San Francisco-based

that as a kid, “there were a lot of beach clubs that wouldn’t let Jewish members attend.” He later attended Julliard but dropped out to pursue musical theater.

Read how Shankman got his big break in this 2007 interview with The Journal:

Shankman, who grew up in Brentwood and attended Julliard, said he “never had the directing bug” until about seven years ago. The 42-year-old was featured as an up-and-comer in a Journal article when he was 22, before his leap to choreographer (“The Addams Family”) and eventually director (“Cheaper by the Dozen 2”).

“All of my work ends up being about family—that’s the Jewish part of me,” he said.

And yes, all of that was really a long-winded excuse to post the picture of Tom Cruise. What can I say? I’m shallow.