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Film and musical revisit extremes of '80s music

WHITESNAKE. Cinderella. Flock of Seagulls. These did little to help the legacy of 1980s rock music.

Did The Replacements, Husker Du and Crowded House do enough to save it?

Two new works, the Broadway musical "Rock of Ages" and the new Greg Mottola film "Adventureland," present opposite soundtracks for the Reagan era: While the stage production revels in hair-band kitsch, the more indie-minded "Adventureland" is nostalgic for the sounds of '80s underground.

"Adventureland" is directed by Mottola, who directed last year's hit coming-of-age comedy "Superbad." This time, Mottola (who also wrote the script) portrays the awkwardness of his post-college 20s, pulling from his experience working at a Long Island amusement park for a summer.

The film is stuffed to the tilt with tunes, boasting a pulsating soundtrack of The Replacements, Lou Reed, Big Star, The Cure, Husker Du, the New York Dolls and others (the acclaimed indie band Yo La Tengo, formed in 1984 and still active, fills in the score.)

For Mottola, nothing is as much a criterion to the past as music.

"As I was writing the film, I almost saw the film as my idea of a good pop love song," he said. "The music is the most exciting thing in the movie to me on some level."

Music is woven into "Adventureland," with some 40 songs in total. Characters relate to each other through a taste for similar bands. Mix tapes are exchanged.

"Rock of Ages," which stars former "American Idol" contestant Constantine Maroulis, is one for the crowd. The musical, which opens on April 7 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York, is a raucous celebration of '80s hair bands.

With an on-stage house band, the musical stitches together tracks from groups such as Journey, Poison, Whitesnake, Styx, REO Speedwagon, Quiet Riot and Bon Jovi.

It's being promoted as a musical that will do for '80s rock what "Mamma Mia!" did for ABBA.


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