Shout is a 1950s rock’n’roll fantasy that tries to have it all ways at once and winds up sorely out of tune. Set in an isolated hamlet on the Texas plains, film purports to be about the liberating effect of the birth of rock’n’roll, but as producers have not secured rights to any signature songs of that era, musical mix sounds wildly inauthentic.
Broadly etched tale is about a home for wayward and orphaned boys. Kid with the worst attitude (James Walters) clashes with the grim and heavy-handed headmaster (Richard Jordan), who espouses a regimen of hard labor and calisthenics.
Along comes a music teacher (John Travolta), a hepcat ahead of his time who indoctrinates the boys in the forbidden pleasures of rock’n’roll. On the side, he’s making time with the owner (Linda Fiorentino) of a dance club on the wrong side of the tracks and former flame of the town sheriff.
It’s the kind of hokey scenario that would fly only if aided by a camp sense of humor or the promise of a good musical number about to break out, and neither of these are present. Music and dance elements are used naturalistically, as in La Bamba, but rather sparingly.
Only Travolta bothers to put on a Texas accent, and his thick, nuanced emoting clashes with the unadorned delivery of the others. In all, ill-thunk scenario seems slung together by amateurs. The culprits are producer Robert Simonds (both Problem Child pics) and first-time director Jeffrey Hornaday (Flashdance choreographer).