Rock of Ages is probably a thrilling, feet-stomping stage musical but as a cinematic jam session? Not so much.

It’s a funny thing about film musicals. Back in the days of Singin’ in the Rain and The Sound of Music, the big-screen musical served to highlight stellar talent — those actors known for their fancy footwork and great pipes. Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Julie Andrews were movie stars because of their considerable musical talents.

In today’s movie musicals, we are supposed to marvel when a regular, garden-variety actor sings. Wow, listen how good Gwyneth Paltrow sounds! Or I had no idea Nicole Kidman could do that! So in Rock of Ages, we are to give props to Tom Cruise, who belts out ’80s tunes “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Pour Some Sugar on Me” just like a real rock star. Don’t get me wrong… he does a more than decent job playing the nearly-washed out rock god Stacee Jaxx, who throws bottles of scotch around, has a pet baboon named Hey Man – and suffers for his art in an over-the-top brooding kind of way. And yes, he can sing.

But the big-screen version of the stage musical doesn’t measure up to Cruise’s talents. Maybe if the film veered from the show and centered just on Stacee Jaxx, it may have been a more compelling rock anthem. Instead, we are subjected to a weak story about a “small-town girl” (Julianne Hough) and “a city boy” (Diego Boneta) “takin’ the midnight train going anywhere” in 1987 to pursue their dreams and fall in love in the City of Angels, where the Sunset Strip is alive with rock and roll. Yes, they sing, too… every chance they get, to the point where you start cringing when they croon “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

Hough, best known as the former pro on Dancing with the Stars, and newcomer Boneta are sticky sweet as the young lovers; you really wish Julianne just danced more. I suppose if you are big fan of ‘80s music from the likes of Foreigner, Def Leppard, Journey and others, you will enjoy Rock of Ages. You might forgive the overall ridiculousness of Alec Baldwin, playing the owner of the premiere rock club on the Strip, and his lackey, Russell Brand, singing REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” to one another (oh, I’m not kidding). Or Catherine Zeta-Jones, as an uptight politician’s wife trying to rid L.A. of rock and roll, belting out Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot.” Or Mary J. Blige, who we already know can sing, having to stoop to this level of mediocrity. You might. Then again, you might not.

Movie musicals these days can be hit or miss. For every hit like Moulin Rouge and Chicago, you have the miss like Nine and now, Rock of Ages. It’s not completely awful, but it doesn’t rise at all to the occasion.