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Shake, Rattle and Rock Reviews

This bouncy made-for-cable counterpart to John Waters's HAIRSPRAY (1988) rocks around the clock with the help of an exuberant cast — led by a pre-stardom Renee Zellweger — and a trunk-load of golden oldies. Susan Doyle (Zellweger) thrills to the wayward beat of Fats Domino and Bill Haley, much to the dismay of her Eisenhower-era mother, Margo (Nora Dunn). Susan and her rebellious pals Cookie (Patricia Childress) and Tony (Max Perlich) hang out at the studio where TV-personality Danny Klay (Howie Mandel) rules the airwaves with his "3 O'Clock Hop." When Margo and her prissy housewife chums spot Susan shaking her tail-feathers on TV, they get mighty steamed under their Peter Pan collars. Already convinced that rock 'n' roll is the devil's music, the PTA gals go ballistic when they learn that Susan has befriended a black girl-group whom she met at the "Hop.". Danny's station manager is equally unhappy about races mingling on his segregated on-air dance party. The last straw for Margo comes when she meets Susan's new beau, juvenile delinquent Lucky (John Doe); she's convinced that communists have indoctrinated her daughter. In fact, romance isn't Susan's top priority; she's formed her own band and found a venue. Stepping up the pressure, Margo's disapproving friends call the police to close down the adolescents' watering hole. In desperation, Danny proposes a televised trial to judge the merits of rock 'n' roll and determine whether the bandstand show and teen night clubs have a place in 1950s society. And it's up to Susan to make sure that her bebopping crowd gets a fair hearing. This mildly satirical, deftly choreographed picture, a remake in-name-only of the genial 1956 exploitation picture that punctuated its title with a question mark rather than an exclamation point, revels in nostalgia. Director Allan Arkush, who cut his teeth on 1979'S ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, keeps things bouncing along and emphasizes the cute music sequences.