Director: Craig Brewer
Writer: Dean Pitchford, Craig Brewer
Based On: “Footloose” (1984 Film) By: Dean Pitchford
Starring: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Andie MacDowell, Dennis Quaid
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Time: 113 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
USA Release: 10/14/2011
On DVD (USA): 3/6/2012
Awards: 1 Grammy Award Nomination
Who would have guessed that the remake of the 1984 movie “Footloose” would do so well with critics, I never would have. Although like pretty much every critic and film lover out there, remakes are something we all frown upon due in large part to the lack of originality the remake tends to deliver, and although this version of “Footloose” did do a surprisingly good job at bringing a new generation a pretty good dance movie it still lacked the originally it so desperately needed. Let me further explain.
I assume many reading this are fairly aware of the original, in any case since there are changes to the story let me tell you a bit about the movie. “Footloose” tells the story of Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald), he just moved from Boston to live with his aunt, uncle and cousins in the small town of Bomont, Georgia where to his surprise rock music and dancing in public are illegal. Of course when he arrived no one happens to mention that fact, but he is soon aware. While getting use to this unusual town he meets Revered Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) and his family which includes his rebel daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough) and Ren is immediately attracted, unfortunately she is taken by the rather aggressive racer Chuck Cranston. Although he though things would become easier after moving he is soon wrapped up into everything as it seems that the whole town is out to get the unwanted newcomer.
I could have easily hated this, walking into the theater I already did, but even when I walked out although I liked it, I wasn’t too crazy about what it offered. Let me explain, the 1984 version of “Footlose” offered that generation a pretty good show of the teen condition where no one takes them seriously and added the almost 50’s like back drop that is Bomont with all of it’s law begging to be challenged and Ren came along and did just that. The biggest problem I had with this was not lack of entertainment, oh no they brought plenty of that, it was the fact that most of the movie was a carbon copy of the original. I mean if you were going to do that then why did I just spend almost 10 dollars on a ticket when I can just stay home and watch the original. Now I’m not saying that that is a bad thing, but there is paying homage to the original with little things here and there but scenes word for word I mean come on could you really not come up with your own dialog. At this point your thinking that I really hated this movie with a passion, no I quite liked it and I probably will buy one day on DVD, but I just would have really liked to have seen more thought and originality put into this, seeing as they tempt us with it around the halfway point and in some scenes throughout. I really enjoyed Craig Brewer directing, I felt that he did give this version a more rounded tone and great choreographed dance scenes, however in the beginning I wasn’t so sure but he was able to make it more dramatic but still fun which is something I think the original had trouble with. With the opening scenes though I was afraid that this was going to be melodramatic and depressing. Speaking of the beginning I liked that they showed a bit more about the crash because it gave us the audience a chance to almost feel their pain unlike the original. I also like what Brewer (who also co-wrote) did with the characters in the script, Shaw and his wife got more character development, also did Ren’s aunt but especially his uncle both of whom were hipper and more understanding. Also having Ren’s mother be dead gave more of an arc for the character of Ren.
But even with all of that and the fact that it was far more entertaining that the original, it’s the fact that for the most part it heavily used exact lines from the original that really made me not like it. I would have without a doubt given this close to an 80% if it had come up with more original dialog, it’s like they didn’t want to take the risk so it’s hard not to bash it especially when they get your hopes up that they would do something original with the script. And although they did have some originality in the storyline with some great one liners I was disappointed at their lack of using more of it. The same goes for some of the songs and a couple dance scenes, I won’t go into it I’ll just say that they could have come up with their own great soundtrack instead of just putting a spin on almost every song used in the original and same goes for the couple dance scenes. Now at this point you are probably seeing that I’m going to keep bringing up the original and this one’s lack of originality, but that is only because most remakes good or bad at least try to bring something new to it not just make the same movie again. And also by doing just that it’s like it is trying to erase the original. Kids from this generation unless shown by their parents will never see or appreciate the ‘84 version and if they do see it after they will just say that it was crappy and deserved to get re-made. There will be no appreciation for the classic, which is always the risk with a remake. Well I guess I’ve talked enough about the writing, on to the acting. The difference which I think somewhat helped was that they brought in actually dancers for the leads, the problem with that is their lack of acting. Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough aren’t bad actors, they could just use more work, they have been thrown into lead roles without really having any experience acting. Wormald showed some range but since some scenes where copied he could have easily just copied Bacon’s performance. Hough on the other hand surprised me with her ease in the far less rebellious role of Ariel, although I have not seen “Burlesque” I would guess she has somewhat improved since then, she can actually act far better then I though she could, and she could also hold a scenes with veterans like Quaid and MacDowell. Speaking of Quaid and MacDowell they both did a great job as Ariel’s parents, they had a bit more lines and development especially MacDowell’s role. Other actors to talk about are Miles Teller who played Willard and of course no one can ever fill the shoes of the late Chris Penn but he did a great job of making the character his own. Same goes for Ziah Colon who played Rusty a role originated by Sarah Jessica Parker, in this though Rusty is mentioned but seen and heard from a bit less, but I really enjoyed Colon’s performance which was fun and light-hearted like Parker’s.
Overall, this is a pretty good movie, I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to because of it’s copying and lack of originality. But it brought out a far more entertaining movie with surprisingly good performance from it’s leads. The dancing is far better due in large part to having it be shot better with actual dancers. If you’re a fan of the original tread lightly but you and anybody that is a fan of dancing will enjoy this high energy version of “Footloose”.
*By the way if you think I completely loved the original because of the way I talked about it in this review, I gave that one 2 ½ stars. I just think that this version should have come up with it’s own dialog.