Shake, Rattle and Rock!

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Shake, Rattle and Rock! Movie Poster Image
Colorless '50s remake is all suggestiveness and no depth.
  • PG-13
  • 1994
  • 83 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Shake, Rattle and Rock! offers positive messages about rock-'n'-roll as a worthwhile art form.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adults are shown as repressed killjoys while kids are shown as just trying to have a good time and express themselves. Kids routinely disobey parents' wishes, but to be fair, the parents are shown as so clueless and easily offended that it's hard not to support the disobedience.

Violence

Minor scuffles between police and kids at a rock-'n'-roll show when a few kids are shoved or knocked to the ground. After a riot ensues, kids are shown smashing the windows of a car with a tire iron.

Sex

Sexual innuendo throughout. A man hits on a woman and is rejected. A mother describes rock-'n'-roll as "African foreplay." A guy says he's going to "chase some skirt." Two girls discuss whether another girl is a "slut" or a "tease" or how often she has gotten "felt up." A couple demonstrates what "grinding" is by placing the boy's hands on the girl's behind, then simulating grinding.

Language

Minor profanity, such as "what the hell." Era-specific terminology or sayings, such as "Negro."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Casual cigarette smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shake, Rattle and Rock! is a 1994 remake of the 1950s rock-'n'-roll comedy. Here, music-obsessed kids disobey their strict, Puritanical parents and break into song and bust a move whenever they get a chance. There's some sexual suggestiveness in discussions of sexual behavior, casual smoking, and lots of prankishness, but the real drawback is that it's a colorless rendition of what likely was a much more exciting era in reality -- like Grease without any of the wit, songs, or charm.

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What's the story?

All Susan (Renee Zellweger) and her bestie want to do is play this new rock-'n'-roll music, and they'll do anything to keep it going. They join a teen dance TV show, throw parties where they can, and do whatever it takes to keep the beat. But will their uptight parents put a stop to this dangerous new craze?

Is it any good?

This movie aims to capture the zeitgeist of the 1950s through a 1990s haze of nostalgia, but it all ends up being rather superficial. There's all the touchstone poodle skirts and leather jackets and square adults not hip to the new tunes, but in an effort to camp up the era's zany times, it misses out on anything like depth or real commentary on what it was all about. Instead, it feels like bits of dialogue are tossed into a series of musical numbers that -- although some are good, particularly the ones with the African-American quartet -- tell us very little about the reality of teens growing up in the era, even in a comedic or tongue-in-cheek way, that hasn't been done better elsewhere. Here, there are rebels or squares and not much in between, nor any effort made to understand them. Parents who don't mind that surface treatment should note that there's some era-specific racism, casual smoking, and the suggestiveness of burgeoning sexual liberation to come. Unfortunately, those things are used in place of better characters or a more compelling plotline. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the portrayal of teenagers during this era. Do you think it shows teens realistically? Why, or why not? How are they different from today's teenagers?

  • Why were parents so offended by rock-'n'-roll?

  • Do you think rock music has changed or the perception of it has changed? Why, or why not? Is rock music regarded as dangerous and subversive anymore? Why do you think that's true?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love musicals

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