Plot: What’s it about?
Susan (Renee Zellweger) and her friends love rock ‘n’ roll and I do mean love, as music is at the heart of almost everything they do. She is a senior in high school and ready to move away for college, but until then, she wants to have some fun and listen to as much rock ‘n’ roll as she can, to be sure. Susan and her best friend Cookie (Patricia Childress) go on Danny Klay’s rock ‘n’ roll show, where the youngsters can dance the time away, sometimes to live performances and of course, the kids love those times. But some of the adults in the town dislike the show, as they think the kids dance too close, or dance in too wild of styles, and of course, they think rock ‘n’ roll is music from the devil himself. When Susan’s mother Margo (Nora Dunn) catches her dancing on the show, it starts a feud in their home, which results in tension between mother and daughter. Then when Danny Klay allows a quartet of black girls to perform, he is fired for his open minded senses, as black people are not allowed to perform on the show. Can Susan and her friends find a way to bring back the rock ‘n’ roll and good times for everyone, or have the parents ruined it for everyone this time?
I’m never one to praise made for television movies much, so I wasn’t too sure about Shake, Rattle & Rock, to say the least. It was made by Showtime back in 1994 and stars Renee Zellweger, but the scant previews I remembered weren’t too interesting. But now Dimension has picked up the home video rights and released a DVD, so I decided to check it out. Of course, Zellweger fans will be most interested here, but anyone who loves 1950s culture should be also, as Shake, Rattle & Rock is all about the 50s, to be sure. I’ve seen a number of these 50s rock ‘n’ roll kind of movies before and many that were better than this, but this one has some moments also. Zellweger and Howie Mandel turn in humorous performances and while the material is often heavy handed, it is usually well written, for a made for television flick, that is. I’d say this is above average for a made for cable movie, but remains at average when compared to normal feature films. I recommend a rental to those interested, as Dimension has issued a bare bones disc at a very steep price.
She has started to win some real praise from audiences & critics, so now we’re seeing more of Renee Zellweger’s previous efforts released. Her work here is bouncy, energetic and really shines at times, though the weak material sometimes slows her down. I like Zellweger in most of her films, but her scrunchy face and squinty eyes can become tiresome, though she never uses either much here, which is good news. It’s good to see her in such an upbeat role, as some of her recent ones have been darker, more conflicted characters, as opposed to her sheer happiness on showcase in Shake, Rattle & Rock. You can also see Zellweger in such films as Love and a .45, Empire Records, Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Bachelor, Jerry Maguire, and Me Myself & Irene. The cast also includes Howie Mandel (Walk Like a Man, Little Monsters), Patricia Childress (As Good As It Gets, Baby Brokers), John Doe (Brokedown Palace, The Rage: Carrie 2), and Nora Dunn (The Last Supper, Tv’s Saturday Night Live).
Video: How does it look?
Shake, Rattle & Rock is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. As I mentioned above, this was a made for television project, so it doesn’t look as refined as a normal film, but this transfer makes it look as good as possible. The image is still soft and has some problems, but I imagine it looks better than it did on television. The colors look bright enough, but not quite as vivid as you might, though flesh tones are normal at all times. The contrast is smooth and stable also, but sometimes seems a little faded, though not too much. I suppose this is a more than passable visual effort, but it just seems too soft for me, never really sharp at all. I doubt fans will be let down, but I can’t help but think this could have looked better.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio here is more than decent, but you won’t be too impressed, as it covers the basics and little else. The elements sound good though and this was a television project, so we have to adjust our expectations, I think. The dialogue is clean and the music is smooth, with no real problems to report in the least. I do think a full surround option could have kicked the music up a couple notches, but it sounds decent enough, even as it stands. This disc also includes English subtitles, in case you’ll need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains no bonus materials.