*** (out of 5)
October 14, 2011
Kenny Wormald as REN MACCORMACK
Julianne Hough as ARIEL MOORE
Dennis Quaid as REV. SHAW MOORE
Andie MacDowell as VI MOORE
Miles Teller as WILLARD
Directed by: Craig Brewer
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Hollywood has gotten so full of remakes that, like a bloated tick, it can initially look unappealing before you realize that it might just be part of the natural order of things.
If you’re like me, a child of the 80s, you might be tempted to dismiss the “Footloose” remake because the original movie still holds up. And after seeing it, I can honestly say that there is nothing new or different or even advance in the filmmaking process about it. It’s not an epic adventure with a cast of thousands, or a sci-fi thriller in need of digital effects. Not a shred of this new film couldn’t have been shot in 1984 – and indeed, it was.
Though there is a part of me that acknowledges that a retread of “Footloose” might actually be necessary. After all, I don’t expect any teenager to watch the 1984 film without rolling his or her eyes and wondering why they’re watching some old dude dancing to crappy pop synth music from 30 years before.
In this sense, the 2011 version of “Footloose” is exactly what a remake is supposed to be. It’s not there to throw into the cinemas because you have a lack of ideas. Rather, it’s put there to bring the story – which as archaic as it is, still works today – to a new generation.
The plot, character and delivery of the film is pretty much the same as the original. This was not a venture to put a new spin on the film, unless you consider country covers of the original songs to be a new spin. But even this makes sense in context because the story takes place in Georgia rather than Utah, as the original had.
So, we’ve seen this before… a scrappy teen comes to a small town that has made underage dancing as illegal as underage drinking. It stems from a tragic accident in which three teens were killed on a ride home from a keg party. Hoping to liberate the town and get everyone’s funk on, the teen tries to repeal the law and allow the senior of the high school to have a end-of-the-year dance.
It’s been decades since I’ve seen the original “Footloose,” and if I remember rightly, that film wasn’t a five-star movie to begin with. Rather, it helped make up the soundtrack of a generation, and it was more fun to dance to the film and talk about it than actually watching it from titles to credits.
Like the original move, this film pushes all the necessary buttons. The cast is pretty decent, though no one is quite the standout that Kevin Bacon and John Lithgow was in 1984. Sorry, Julianne Hough… you’re easy on the eyes and all, and you have a kick-ass body, but you are literally just another pretty face in the Hollywood crowd. I don’t think Hough has the star power, and with her annoying voice that simultaneously channels Jennifer Tilly and Joey Lauren Adams, her post-“Dancing with the Stars” fame will be short-lived.
In fact, much of the credit for the successful nature of this film goes to director Craig Brewer, who normally handles harder material like “Hustle and Flow” and “Black Snake Moan.” Brewer does not attempt to top the first film, but rather he just gives another performance of it, the way a theater troupe might offer their best version of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
Brewer shows remarkable restraint, especially in an industry where cocky directors want to put their own trademarks on a film. Were this movie directed by a lesser director like (God forbid!) Brett Ratner, it would have been terrible.
But as it stands, “Footloose” is completely harmless, and quite enjoyable at times. Like any good pop song, it’s got a beat, and you can dance to it.