I feel like I’m letting Ben down by not making him watch the original 1984 version of Footloose. This update of the Kevin Bacon classic is as faithful as a remake can be, but that fact would be lost on someone who has never watched the first. But more than that, the original is just better.
Footloose hits almost all of the major plot points of the original. Like, literally. Make a checklist of every scene you remember from the 1984 version and you will find it recreated here: Montage featuring close ups of dancing feet over the opening credits? Check (bonus points for using the same choreography). The bad-boy-new-kid-in-town doing angry dance-gymnastics in a warehouse? Check. A reckless game of chicken featuring large vehicles? Check (tractors have been swapped for school buses here). Teenagers using Bible passages to argue against the town’s ban on dancing? Check. A victorious prom dance sequence set to the title song? Check (bonus points for using the same choreography; minus points for using a Blake Shelton version of the song).
On the one hand, it was nice to see such a faithful remake that didn’t try to change too much about what made the original so fun. This version retains the story, teenage angst, dancing, and much of the music of 1984’s Footloose, but updates everything just enough to make the film feel fresh. I especially enjoyed the eclectic soundtrack, which mixes more genres than the original did. I knew exactly what was going to happen (actually, anyone should be able to tell where this is going), but I still had fun watching. The only real problem with this is that it sometimes brings to mind the original too much, which highlights the fact that this cast is just not as good as this time around.
Kenny Wormald stars as Ren McCormack, a teenager from Boston who sparks his newfound Georgian friends to rebel against their town’s oppressive laws. He does a good job, but he just doesn’t have the charisma that Kevin Bacon did in the same role. Julianne Hough is Ren’s love interest, Ariel, and her only real talent is her dancing ability. It was great that they cast people who could actually dance, but in Hough’s case it really highlights how terrible her acting is. The rest of the cast is good, particularly Dennis Quaid as Ariel’s father. But in saying that I have to admit that Quaid doesn’t bring the same intensity to the role that John Lithgow did. Lithgow’s performance is one that has always stuck with me. He was legitimately intimidating and felt like a man who could convince an entire town to ban things as innocent as rock music and dancing. Quaid’s take on Reverend Moore doesn’t pack as big a punch. He isn’t given a powerful enough reason for ultimately supporting his daughter and her friends (Lithgow witnesses townspeople burning “inappropriate” books, where Quaid has a heart-to-heart with Ren), leaving his character feeling somewhat impotent and even more misguided in his attempt to squash teenage fun.
Still, Footloose is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Whether you’re familiar with the original or being introduced to the story for the first time, there’s a lot of great dancing and music to entertain and delight. It may be missing Kevin Bacon, but the new cast does an admirable job reinventing the story and characters for a new generation who just want to cut loose.
I must start out this review with the statement that I have not seen the Kevin Bacon original. While watching this remake, Sally was pointing out all of the scenes and certain shots that were exactly the same as the original film. I know nothing about that, I could only review this film for what it was. Footloose is an enjoyable teen flick with cool dance scenes and a likable lead, despite his ridiculous Baaaahston accent.
Footloose is the story of Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald), a young boy who got into some trouble after his mother died of cancer and is sent down to Bomont, Georgia to live with his uncle. When he arrives, Ren discovers the town preacher (Dennis Quaid) has outlawed dancing and parties due an unfortunate drink driving accident a few years back. Ren and the preacher’s daughter (Julianne Hough, barely looking young enough to play a high school student) begin to rebel against these archaic rules and soon the whole town wants in on their fun too. Eventually this becomes a battle between the local council and the school kids that just want to get their dance on.
There are plenty of problems with this film, like how did the town decide that dancing was the root of all evil? The opening scene clearly shows some underage drinking, which I imagine would have had more to do with the drunken driving that caused the horrific accident than some innocent dancing. If you can get beyond the fact that this town council is full of know nothing Muppets, and enjoy this film for what it is, you’ll enjoy yourself. Kenny Wormald is a likable young actor, and he is also a professionally trained dancer. He has some really good moves and holds his own really well up against the former professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars, Julianne Hough. I am really surprised he hasn’t done more besides this film.
The music is a nice blend of contemporary and 80s pop music. I really wish they’d just kept the Kenny Loggins version of Footloose though. The version released for this film is nowhere near as good as Loggins one.
Footloose is a fun movie with a killer soundtrack, great dance sequences and a young likable lead. Despite the fact that the plot is implausible, there is fun to be had here.