Movie Review: FOOTLOOSE

Wormald and Hough

When I posted on Facebook that I had gone to a Paramount screening of the Footloose remake (out October 14), one of my friends jokingly threatened to disown me because I was apparently being disloyal to the original. Well, the 1984 movie was enjoyable but it wasn’t great (let’s face it—the soundtrack elevated it) so I was willing to keep an open mind.

My conclusion was that it didn’t need to be remade because this version doesn’t improve or change the story in any significant way. All the major plot points are intact, and it’s still a corndog movie minus the advantage of being first.

If you’re, oh, under twenty years old and have never been exposed to Footloose, the very slim plotline involves Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) coming down from Boston after his mother dies to live with his Uncle Wes (Ray McKinnon) in a small town called Bomont. Much to his chagrin, he finds that the law there doesn’t allow public dancing since five teens were killed three years earlier after a night of dancing and drinking. Ren locks horns with Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid), a staunch supporter of the law since his son was one of the kids who died. But the reverend’s daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough), has much more amorous feelings toward Ren and together they set out to challenge the law so they can have their dance.

Andie McDowell (as the reverend's wife), Wormald, and Quaid

Though I never looked at Kevin Bacon in the original and thought, “Wow, this is a great actor who’s still going to be relevant in thirty years,” he infused Ren with an innate sense of confidence and mischief while Wormald seems to be only playing at cockiness. It’s obvious he was hired more for his dancing than acting skills, and he does okay, but that’s not enough when he’s the lead. He acquits himself better than Hough, though, who looks gorgeous but doesn’t yet have the depth of talent to convey Ariel’s little-girl-lost quality. She comes across reckless and petulant instead of as someone in pain who’s overcompensating. Then again, the script (by Dean Pitchford and Craig Brewer, who also directed) doesn’t allow her to be very sympathetic. And Quaid, famous for his roguish screen presence, is all wrong as the uptight reverend.

Teller and Wormald

If there’s a reason to see this movie, it’s Miles Teller, who steals every scene as Ren’s friend Willard, the boy who can’t dance who was first played by the late Chris Penn (Teller even resembles him a little). Teller is funny and full of crackling energy, which is especially amazing if you saw him in Rabbit Hole, where he imbued an intensely dramatic role with grace and stillness.

And the music—when I heard the opening beats and guitar riffs of the title track, with Blake Shelton stepping in for Kenny Loggins, my feet did cut loose a little under my seat. But this version sounds almost exactly the same as the other, which again begs the question of why it was remade. One of the songs, “Holding Out for a Hero,” was reinvented but not in a good way. While Bonnie Tyler sang it as an anthemic number, Ella Mae Bowen turns it into a treacly ballad that’s almost unrecognizable. By the time “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” comes on, with Jana Kramer covering Deniece Williams’s hit, the soundtrack had swung back to sounding familiar, but it also makes you want to just go back and listen to the original.

Nerd verdict: Footloose doesn’t cut it

Photos: Paramount

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    EIREGO
    October 3, 2011 at 9:26 am

    This is what I was afraid of when I heard they were going to remake it. I don’t think I’ll ever understand why Hollywood spends so much money on remakes. Maybe sometimes it works but rarely is it better than a completely new story.

  • Reply
    Benoit Lelievre
    October 3, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Creativity seems to be out of trend in Hollywood and remaking the eighties, the new cash cow. Can you believe there’s a remake of Point Break in the making? Point…fucking…Break? I mean, how good can it get without Patrick Swayze’s hair and the dated ridicule?

    I loved the original Footloose because I am one of the rare Kevin Bacon enthusiasts. Seeing him win the tractor race with his shoelace caught up was one of the high points of corny eighties cinema for me, along with John Matrix’s powering out a phone booth off its socket. I am angered, yet intrigued. Maybe this calls for a download.

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    October 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Did you hear about the Dirty Dancing remake? And reimagining Blues Brothers as a TV series? What about The Munsters reboot? It’s out of control.

    Benoit—I think a reload of the original is a good idea and will save you ten (or more) bucks.

    • Reply
      heidenkind
      October 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm

      Hey, I liked that Dirty Dancing remake! 😉

  • Reply
    jenn aka the picky girl
    October 3, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Eh – wasn’t wild about it the first go round. I’ll probably wait until it’s on DVD…for the dance parts. Not sure what it is, but I totally love the dance scenes from crappy dance movies. Makes me wish I could move like that. Step Up, Step Up 2, Center Stage? Yep, that’s me fast forwarding through the boring dialogue and skipping to the dancing.

  • Reply
    Christine
    October 3, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    WAIT! They’re remaking Dirty Dancing as well? *headdesk* Hollywood seems to have become Remake Hell. I’m holding out for an ORIGINAL Hollywood hero.

  • Reply
    le0pard13
    October 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Even my 11-year old daughter thought this was a bad idea (and like me, she wasn’t all that crazy about the original). I’m with Christine, let’s have an ORIGINAL hero (or an idea) from Hollywood.

  • Reply
    Joy McBride
    October 3, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    People, please do not listen to this nerd!! The new Footloose is wonderful! I am a 61 yr old grandmother who loved the original Footloose, but next to the new one it is slow and lame. This one is exciting and the actors are much better than the original! They do their own dancing they are better looking than Kevin and Lori. Go see it for yourself and make up your own mind.

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