In the long arena of musicals, “Rock Rock Rock!” is easily one of the most lackluster of them all. It’s pacing is weird, the acting leaves so much to be desired, and there’s a lot of filler, but if you’re willing to invest time in to it for the kitschy performances from folks like Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon, and Connie Francis, you might just enjoy the inherent camp value. You also might get a giggle at a movie with probably the least effective “conflict” ever put to film.
Will Price’s film stars a beautifully young Tuesday Weld, who makes her debut as Dori, a young girl going steady with her guy Tommy. The new girl in school wants her man, so she sets out to buy a (gasp!) strapless evening dress for the prom. Dori hopes to beat her to the punch by buying an even better strapless gown. But, dagnabit, her dad is angry about her spending her money on records and candy and cuts off her credit cards. So Dori sets out to earn the money she needs for the dress by making a deal with her friend. That’s about as dramatic as “Rock Rock Rock!” gets as the movie is hopelessly stupid and lacking in any real interesting characters.
The musical aspect of the movie is awkward and tacked on as characters will literally spew dialogue, pause and begin singing to the camera. Tuesday Weld in particular is guilty of this (singing voice courtesy of Connie Francis) along with a particularly awful performance. At eighty five minutes, “Rock Rock Rock!” only has about forty minutes of narrative, with the rest filled up with performances, and musical numbers.
The movie even stops right in the middle to present us with four whole performances from the roster of rock stars included. There are at least folks like Alan Freed, The Flamingos, Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers. “Rock Rock Rock!” is terrible, but it’s worth some time for the fine rock stars, and some horrendous performances. I especially got a kick out of the introduction of Ivy Schulman and the Bowties, as she literally struggles not to acknowledge the camera.