Shout (1995) from Brainscan

When Heather Graham was 20 she made a movie entitled "Shout." It should have been a career breakthrough. The cast included John Travolta in the period of his first, Look-Who's-Talking comeback, the always reliable Linda Fiorentino, veteran character actor Richard Jordan and a very young Gwyneth Paltrow. Heather's character was written into well over half the scenes in the final cut, and she was cast to play an exquisitely beautiful young woman with a heart of gold... which is akin to casting Michael Jordan as a tall African-American with some basketball talent. So what went wrong? By which I mean, why had I never heard of this movie and why is it in the low 4's on IMDb?

What went wrong started with the writing. The screenplay is 40% Dead Poets Society, 30% Cool Hand Luke, 20% Dirty Dancing and 10% that movie about the town in the Southwest where dancing isn't allowed.

The idea is this:

1) Start with a home for wayward boys set in Texas in 1955. One boy, played by Jamie Walters is sent up the river for ringing the town church bells way early on a fine morn that wasn't Sunday.

2) Add a Nazi director of the home, who seems to be absolutely, positively the only adult supervision in the place.

3) Mix in a music teacher with a dark past, assigned to train the boys for the upcoming Independence Day celebration.

4) Flavor with Heather, who plays the Nazi's daughter, sent from a-far to live him.... at a home for wayward boys...where, I repeat, her dad is the only adult supervision. Even in '55 that was a dangerous mix.

Travolta is supposed to be cool. You know that 'cuz he plays rock n roll recorded by black artists and goes to the local club catering to black folks, where he dances with Linda, who is the town sherrif's ex-main squeeze.

Shit happens and in-between or before the shit, Heather's character and Jamie's character meet, fall in love, kiss a lot and finally do the nasty. Recall, again dear reader, Jamie is in a home for wayward boys and he is supervised for not one minute of the day even though Heather plays the daughter of the guy what runs the place. WTF! I'd have had my daughter locked behind one set of bars and all the boys in the place locked behind a second set... with the open policy that the first boy of touch her loses a hand and his minerals.

Travolta's character is written as a anti-hero's hero, Jamie's character as a sweet mixed-up kid with sooo much potential, Heather's character... well, I already told you about her. None of them is the least bit authentic. It all sucks so very hard, and so very deep.

And then you get to the ending where a band without a single brass instrument is supposed to play Sousa marches but breaks into rock n roll when Travolta's character strides forward to be arrested (don't bother to ask why... it is neither important nor interesting). All the kids in town, a couple hundred of which suddenly appear, start to dance... professionally, with panties a-showin' and bodies a-movin'. At that point you realize you've seen a movie descend from really bad into truly and monumentally... historically... awful. Wretched. Atrocious. From boring to painful, from an uninteresting mess to an act of torture approved for use only by Donald Rumsfeld.

But as my mama used to say, it is a dark cloud indeed that has no silver lining.

Boys and girls, the silver lining here could hardly have been brighter. It is Heather Graham in one scene of about 20 frames in a nightgown so thin it is almost transparent. In the scene, Jamie's character bursts into the house Heather shares with her dad, flings open the door to her bedroom, strides over and kisses her... then leaves, without anyone stopping either his ingress or his egress. All shot perfectly. (At least the DP knew what he was doing.)


none, but read the main commentary to the left for details

DVD info from Amazon

  • no features, no widescreen

Let's review.
  • Great cast, awful writing, criminally putrid direction: a movie with a 1.5-second scene worth watching.
  • The one review I read on IMDb had many positive things to say about Shout. I have only three, all of which belong to Heather Graham, one of which is her face.

The Critics Vote

Rotten Tomatoes. Very few reviews, none positive.

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics, possibly even less, depending on just how low the rating is.

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