New movie releases this week include Katherine Heigl’s return to the big screen, plus The Promise, Truman, and more
Matthew Lickona 6 p.m., April 21
They've studied the demographics, calculated their risk, and decided to stick out their necks on the bet that the movie audience contains more teenagers than Moral Majority members. The battle lines are drawn straight off, as John Lithgow, with turn-around collar, rants from the pulpit: "If He isn't testing us, how do you account for the proliferation of this rock-and-roll music?" (Haydn, he explains to his daughter in private, is okay: "It's uplifting. It doesn't confuse people's minds and bodies.") Trouble starts to brew in earnest when an up-to-date Chicagoan (Kevin Bacon) moves to this Hicksville, which is somewhere in the Bible Belt, but might as well be in Iran: dancing is officially outlawed. And trouble soon percolates into a determined campaign for a senior prom, fought all the way to Town Council, where, in a stroke worthy of Clarence Darrow, the porcupine-haired hero demonstrates that even the Good Book would approve. It's a measure of how low this movie is willing to bow to its desired audience, that, when the big night arrives and director Herbert Ross has a chance to depict the efforts of kids who've never in their pubescent lives been on a dance floor, he trots out a chorus line of Broadway-Vegas professionals. 1984.