First Hit: There were moments of great entertainment separated by long sections of pure boredom.
This film was so filled with clichés that it was virtually un-watchable at times.
The Reverend Shaw Moore (played by Dennis Quaid) over reacts to events, doesn’t look in the mirror to see his own faults and has a child who rebels against his righteous rule. His opponent, of sorts, is Ren MacCormack (played by Kenny Wormald) who appears to be a rebel but is actually trying to hold his life together after his mother dies of Leukemia.
Then there is Ren’s first friend whom he meets when he arrives at school on the first day, Willard (played by Miles Teller) who cannot dance but we all know that he’ll be great by the end of the film. Ren comes from Boston, Massachusetts to Bomont, Georgia where he finds things a bit different. The town has made dancing illegal (like this is actually believable) because some kids lost their lives while drinking and driving home from a dance.
Reverend Moore’s oldest son caused the accident that killed the five kids and he feels responsible to protect all other children. His daughter Ariel (played by Julianne Hough) is acting out because she feels lost without her older brother.
I was bored at the long sequences of predictable scenes all leading up to moments of great entertainment. Those scenes are the dancing at the drive-in theater, the little girls teaching Willard to dance, the scene where an angry Ren dances in a warehouse, and the final dance scene.
But outside of these entertainment events the characters are way too predictable, the scenes are marginally acted, and waiting for the entertainment was painful.
Quaid made a good uptight Reverend but there was no interesting ground broken here. Andie McDowell played Vi Moore the reverend’s wife, and was great to see again in a film. In her minor role she actually brought some wisdom to the film. Wormald was OK to watch, a very good dancer, but I always felt he was smirking through the role. Teller was one of the best things to watch in the film – engaged and enjoyable to watch. Hough was barely adequate as a girl rebelling. Yes she acted rebellious but there wasn’t anything coming through on the screen about her character being in pain or challenged. It was all outward and nothing came forth from an inward space. Dean Pitchford and Craig Brewer wrote this mostly awful script. Craig Brewer directed great dance scenes but the rest of it was wasteful.
Overall: Barely watchable on video or streaming. The young girls in the theater liked it but it was all hat and no cattle.