Footloose follows the 1984 original film so closely you wonder what was the point of remaking it in the first place. It isn’t a bad movie, but it fails to be better than the original or offer any new reason to watch it.
Instead, you get the same story (which seems even more unrealistic now); a fresh cast of young actors (who all seem way too old to be in high school); and some new music stars putting their own spin on the original film’s tunes (Blake Shelton country ups the movie’s theme song).
The remake was directed by Craig Brewer (who brought us Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan) based on a screenplay he wrote with original Footloose scribe Dean Pitchford. The film sees newcomer Kenny Wormald stepping into Kevin Bacon's original sneakers; Dancing with the Stars' Julianne Hough trying out Lori Singer's red boots, and Miles Teller trying to act as tough and funny as Chris Penn. Other stars in the film include Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell, Ray McKinnon, Patrick John Flueger, Kim Dickens, Ser'Darius Blain, and L. Warren Young.
The film changes up the story slightly and opens with five high school kids dying in a car crash after a night of partying. The crash leads Rev. Shaw Moore (Quaid) and the rest of city council of Bomont, Georgia, to enforce a curfew on teenagers, and ban dancing - which leads to drinking and all other kinds of sin. Kids are also not allowed to play music loud, have parties, or do pretty much anything else that falls under teenage fun.
Skip to three years later, Ren MacCormack (Wormald) is forced to move from Boston to the small town of after his mother dies. He comes to the town to live with his uncle Wes (McKinnon) and aunt Lulu Warnicker (Dickens). Wes owns a car dealership and gave Ren a VW bug to fix up and also helped hook him up with a job at the mill. Ren shows off his auto skills by getting the car running and even installing massive speakers up to it so he can blast Quiet Riot’s “Bang Your Head” – which naturally leads to a showdown with the law.
Ren is in massive culture shock in the small town. His big city ways continue to clash, but he is able to make a friend in Willard (Teller), spark an uneasy romance with the preacher's daughter Ariel (Hough), and make an enemy of her bad boy boyfriend Chuck Cranston (Flueger).
All the romance and action is set to a musical score of pop/country where the teens who aren’t allowed to dance break out in dance before the gloomy Rev. Moore shows up to shut down their fun. There is also the backstory of Ariel coming to grips with her father. Rev. Moore is forced to come to terms with the death of his son and the effect it has had on Ariel and his wife (MacDowell, who is wasted in the film).
Ren deals with the death of his mother; finds his own nerve when he stands up before the city council to protest the dance law; fights Chuck to save the day; and naturally gets the girl.
The remake of Footloose is not a bad movie. It just isn’t needed. The filmmakers made minor changes to the story to update it and make it a tad more believable (although a city council issuing a law prohibiting dance still seems kind of silly). Still, there isn’t enough new to give the movie a reason to be made – other than cashing in on the original’s nostalgia. With that said, it is a fun movie for fans of the genre, and will get the toes taping as that famous song starts playing.
Wormald does a decent job in the movie, but he fails to deliver the kind of the talent and charisma a young Kevin Bacon brought to the screen. The actor’s accent gets in the way when he is trying to deliver his lines, and most of the time he looks a little lost when trying to act.
Wormald really shines during the incredible dance sequences. The original Footloose might be a dance film, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the sequences Brewer and company captured for the remake.
Hough is probably the best thing in the movie, and is able to outshine the performance Lori Singer did in the original. She brings a lot of emotion to the role of Ariel, and makes the conflict with Ariel’s father very believable.
Quaid does a good job as Moore, and doesn’t come off as too preachy – even when forcing his opinions on the town. I liked how they made him part of the city council and it helped sell the idea of one man being able to enforce his own beliefs on the entire town. Quaid also helps Hough’s performance in the scenes where Ariel has confrontation with her father.
The film looks great on Blu-ray and Brewer knows how to direct this kind of movie. Despite Hough’s short shorts and half shirts, the film feels a little Disney compared to Brewer’s gritty Black Snake Moan or Hustle & Flow, but it isn’t supposed to be that kind of film. Brewer delivered a popcorn movie that can be enjoyed by the younger teen audience or parents wanting to relive the 80s when the first Footloose made them want to dance.
The Blu-ray comes loaded with special features which go into why they wanted to remake the original, and its journey to the big screen. There are also deleted scenes, a look at the dancing in the movie, and a music video from Big & Rich.
Although the remake of Footloose isn’t needed and it fails to live up to the legacy of the original, it isn’t a horrible film and will no doubt please the young teen audience it is aimed at capturing. I doubt the remake will go on to gain the iconic status of the original, but it isn’t a horrible film to watch, and it just make might you want to break out the dancing shoes.
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