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You would think that a movie starring John Travolta, Heather Graham and Gwyneth Paltrow would be a huge blockbuster. However, if that movie was made in 1991 before Heather and Gwyneth were stars and Travolta was in the midst of career recovery, no one has heard of it, until now.
Shout, set in the early 1950's, stars James Walters as Jesse Tucker, a trouble making orphan who has run afoul of the law one too many times. He is sent to live at the Benedict Boys Home, a half way house for troubled teen boys in the middle of the Texas plains. Jesse has a bad attitude and disrespect for authority, just the kind of boy Benedict (Richard Jordan) wants to break.
The Benedict Boys Home also has a band that plays every July 4th at the town fair. Benedict hires a new music teacher, the mysterious Jack Cabe (John Travolta), to get the boys in shape in time for the big show. Cabe has an unorthodox teaching method, a love for music and a clouded past. In many ways, Jesse and Cabe are kindred spirits who soon earn each other's respect and admiration.
Things seem to be going along smoothly until the guys in the band hear a new kind of music coming from Cabe's cabin. It stirs their emotions and gives them new hope. It is rock and roll. The boys want to learn how to play this music, but Cabe is reluctant. He makes a deal with them, he will teach them rock and roll if they learn their music for the July 4th celebration.
It's not a movie about rebellion unless we have two star crossed lovers. In Shout, Sara (Heather Graham), Benedict's cherished daughter, catches the eye of all the boys. However, it's Jesse who is the most interested. He makes a bet with the other guys. Jesse tells them he will "score" with Sara before the end of the summer, but his plan gets complicated when the two young kids fall in love and his conscience starts to take over.
What is Cabe running from? Will Jesse and Sara be able to fall in love without Benedict breaking them up? What will Benedict do when he finds out that Cabe is teaching rock and roll to the boys?
You have to love a movie where John Travolta sings and dances. That gets the movie up to B+ status right away. The role isn't too challenging for Travolta, but he does a great a job. Yes, Travolta's role is very similar to Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society, but that's OK. He is able to convey his character's love for music and caring for the trouble teens.
James Walters is actually good in this role. Many of you probably remember him from FOX's manufactured rock band/television show, The Heights, so you already know he can sing. Walters does a good job of giving some depth to the character. He could have easily been an angry, rebel without a clue, but Walters is able to show that Jesse is just as vulnerable as everyone else and looking for something to believe in.
Heather Graham puts in a solid performance, but the role doesn't give her much of a challenge. She was just getting her career underway and Shout was made after her stunning appearance in Drugstore Cowboy and before her strong turn in Six Degrees of Separation. If you are a big fan, you'll want to check this one out just to say you have seen every Heather Graham movie.
I can hear everyone shouting at this review, "What about Gwyneth?" She plays the small role of Rebecca, the object of Allen's (Glenn Quinn) affection. Gwyneth doesn't get much to do, but it was a surprise to see her in this film. By the way, her hair is not blonde in this film. Does that mean that Hollywood starlets don't achieve their looks through natural means?
Kudos to Director Jeffrey Hornaday and the cinematographer for some fantastic sweeping scenes of the Texas plains. The shots give you an understanding of how far away from civilization the home is located and a sense of their isolation.
Take a chance and rent Shout.
Director: Jeffrey Hornaday
Writer: Joe Gayton
John Travolta Cabe
James Walters Jesse Tucker
Heather Graham Sara Benedict
Richard Jordan .. Benedict
Linda Fiorentino Molly
Glenn Quinn .. Allen
Scott Coffey .. Bradley
Sam Hennings Sheriff Travis Parker
Gwyneth Paltrow Rebecca
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