"Shout" is one of those movies that prompts all the obvious comments, one of which is: This movie is nothing to shout about.
In truth, every now and then the film makes you cringe. It's that silly.
Heather Graham and James Walters play the younger leads in the film. He is an orphan confined to a school for boys, and she is the daughter of the director of the school which is located somewhere in Texas.
The time is the early '50s, and it has to be that way. This kind of plot would never play well against a contemporary background. Actually, it doesn't play that well against the '50s background.
The movie is rather innocent. We can give it that much. The director of the school is stern, but he isn't sadistic, so we don't have to sit through a succession of scenes in which the boys are brutalized. In fact, as boys' schools go, this one is rather nice, about as nice as those in the movies that were made in the '30s and '40s, which "Shout" brings to mind time and time again.
Jeffrey Hornaday directed. Hornaday did the choreography for "Flashdance" and for the movie version of "A Chorus Line," but don't expect anything interesting here. What we get looks pretty silly.
Rock 'n' roll plays a big part in "Shout." The principals are supposed to be witnessing the dawn of this new musical wave, and John Travolta, as music teacher Jack Cabe, wants to lead the boys down that musical road.
The director of the school, of course, is against it. And naturally, we also have the town elders who talk about the immoral nature of the new music. "Shout" means to laugh at them, but it isn't all that easy to do so.
There are some truly embarrassing moments in "Shout." In one scene, Cabe encourages one of the boys to walk like a chicken to loosen up. After that, the whole film walks like a chicken.
In "Footloose," the musical numbers were big, imaginative and part of the landscape. In "Shout," they are small and incongruous. What Hornady should have done was stage the numbers as he did in "Flashdance," make them out-and-out numbers. Instead, he tries to wed the dance to the locale, and it doesn't work.
"Shout" is more whimper. Travolta gets one of those "and-John-Travolta-as" billings, so "Shout" shouldn't harm his resuscitated career too much, if he's lucky.
*A music teacher at a school for boys in Texas introduces the youths to rock 'n' roll.
*CAST: Heather Graham, James Walters, Linda Fiorentino, Richard Jordan, John Travolta.
*DIRECTOR: Jeffrey Hornaday.
*RATING: PG-13 (sex).
*RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes.