MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
As I do with most 80s properties that are threatened with a remake from the post-MTV generation by MTV films, I was skeptical about this new version of “Footloose.” Fortunately, under the deft hand a Craig Brewer, we get an energetic update that doesn’t feel tired.
The story follows a high schooler named Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) who moves from Boston to the small town of Bomont. There, he learns that dancing and playing rock music has been outlawed after a devastating traffic accident killed five teens after a party. Catching the eye of the rebellious daughter (Julianne Hough) of the local pastor, Ren tries to petition the town to lift the ban on teen dancing.
Remaking such an iconic film is a tough job. On one hand, you have to update the story, characters and especially the music for a younger audience. After all, kids today aren’t exactly going to rock out to the “old” music from the Kevin Bacon version. On the other hand, you have to keep the spirit of the movie true or you’ll alienate the people who loved the original.
Brewer manages to do this, keeping the story friendly and warm enough that you fall in love with the characters. Kenny Wormald is no Kevin Bacon, and he puts his natural Boston accent on a little too much at times, but he works in the role. Similarly, Julianne Hough is easier on the eyes than Lori Singer was in the original, and she’s about as good of an actor (though her voice can get annoying at times).
Still, this movie hits all the beats of the first film without trampling on its memory. The set-up of an overly conservative town that bans rock music and dancing seems a little less likely today (though if you follow some current political trends, you might disagree with that statement). But the movie pushes past that as best as it can.
I reluctantly watched the original 1984 version of the film on VHS back in the day. I reluctantly came to the new “Footloose” the same way. But in both cases, I was happy to make the journey.
The Blu-ray of “Footloose” comes with a nice assortment of special features, including commentary by director Craig Brewer, deleted scenes and a music video of Big & Rich’s “Fake ID.” There’s also a handful of featurettes that look at the making of the film and how it relates to the original 1984 classic: “Jump Back: Re-Imagining Footloose,” “Everybody Cut: The Stars of Footloose” and “Dancing with the Footloose Stars.”
The Blu-ray also comes with a DVD of the film and Digital Copy, as well as instant streaming via Ultraviolet, all of which have become good standard practice among major releases.