On the list of films that need to be remade, it seems like the most obvious ones are ignored while the iconic ones that people usually don’t want to be remade are first on the list. The latest in a long list of Hollywood remakes to hit the big screen is this week’s “Footloose,” a movie that shot Kevin Bacon to the top of the “it” list. So can director Craig Brewer (“Black Snake Moan”) and writer Dean Pitchford — who also wrote the original film — bring a whole new generation to their feet with this tale of a rebellious city boy who just wants to dance?
When his mother dies from leukemia, a young metropolitan named Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves to rural Beaumont, Ga., from Boston to live with his uncle Wes (Ray McKinnon) and aunt Lulu (Kim Dickens) and their three daughters. With the best intentions, he tries to start a new life but is quickly busted by the police for driving with his music too loudly. He quickly learns that years prior a group of promising young high-schoolers were killed on their way home from a school dance. The town went crazy, and led by the town’s pastor and city council member Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid), the city quickly abolished public dancing and loud raucous music in the town limits.
Things are quickly complicated when the Rev. Shaw’s wild-child daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough) catches young Ren’s eye. Just wanting to be himself and express his feelings through dance, young Ren challenges the law and begins to make friends along the way … and even more enemies. With his trusted nutty new country amigo Willard (Miles Tellar), Ren is out to prove what he can do to raise the town’s spirits and those of his fellow students. But with most adults believing anything besides church hymns is the devil’s music, he has his work cut out for him.
The first thing everyone asked me after I saw this movie was “Is it better than the original
?” and that is such a loaded question. What would categorize it as better: the acting, the music, the style of dancing, the cast? My simple answer to the question is that while the original is a classic to an older generation, the new film brings it up-to-date with the music and dancing style, while still keeping the same basic storyline and holding many tip-of-the-hat moments to the classic film.
The characters and how they interact give you the same feelings, but the relationships and personalities have been changed and made their own. Overall, this is a fun film to see that will have people tapping their toes and wanting to jump out of their seats and dance.
Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough are front and center as our two main leads. While Wormald seems to bring a different type of attitude to the role, it is safe to say that he is a future star and an amazing dancer. Almost having more of a “Step Up” feel to the dances, the scenes when he gets to cut loose are bursting with passion and emotion and the audience is mesmerized and taken along for the ride. Hough really surprised me, as all I have seen her in was a very small part in last year’s “Burlesque” and that didn’t really give us enough to judge her on. Her role is Ariel, the pastor’s daughter who has taken being the bad girl to a whole new level. There is a reason for her acting out and we can see the pain behind her tough exterior.
Another standout performance for me was given by Miles Tellar, who is the heart and soul of the comedy in this film. His comedic timing and mannerisms in the film are phenomenal — he had me cracking up throughout the film, and he showcased some very fancy moves as well. Dennis Quaid had the difficult task of being the “bad guy” who took a tragedy and put the fear of God into the town, but he is counter-balanced by his wife — played by Andie MacDowell — who helps bring in some more understanding and kindness into the picture.
The music is great. It features many homages and remakes of the original songs that will be familiar to most. The title song, originally sung by Kenny Loggins, has been redone by country star Blake Shelton and it is just as infectious as it was 20 years ago. Those who had the soundtrack growing up will be pleased to hear some old favorites while also finding some new ones as well. I am not a fan of country music, but I wouldn’t mind having this soundtrack on my ipod, and that is saying a lot.
This film is just a fun movie to take your family or friends to on a Friday night. It mixes the look and feeling of the original with a modern take that makes it easier for a younger generation to relate to. The classic story of adolescent angst is one that anybody can affiliate themselves with and all can enjoy.
“Footloose” — rated PG-13 for some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence and language — hustles its way into theaters today.
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