Film Review “Footloose”

Starring: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough and Dennis Quaid
Directed by: Craig Brewer
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 53 mins
Paramount

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I have two very vivid memories of the original “Footloose,” released in 1984:
1. I got busted trying to sneak a Dr. Pepper into the theatre. Six months later I was not only running the theatre but I dated the employee who caught me for almost five years.
2. I thought it odd that, for a town where dancing was forbidden, all of the kids danced a hell of a lot better than Kevin Bacon.

It’s 2011 and things are a lot different. First, I successfully snuck a DIET Dr. Pepper into the theatre. Second, Kenny Wormald can dance his ass off!

A pretty faithful remake, “Footloose” is best appreciated when not compared to the film that inspired it. As the film opens, we find ourselves among a group of kids dancing up a storm (to Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose,” of course). One of the cluster of kids leaves the dance and pile into a car driven by Bobby Moore (Blair Jasin). In a severe case of un-attention, Bobby takes his eyes off the road, causing a crash that kills all five people in the car. Stunned with grief, the small town of Bomont, Georgia, led by Bobby’s preacher father (Quaid), pass a series of laws intended to protect the young people of the town. Among them: no playing of amplified music and, with the exception of a yearly church gathering, no public display of dancing.

Enter Ren MacCormack (Wormald). Following the death of his mother, Ren has been sent to Bomont to live with his uncle and his family. He soon finds himself pulled over by the local police, having blasted Quiet Riot a little too loudly in his Volkswagon. Ren also possesses what is referred to as “Yankee sarcasm,” which doesn’t endear him right away to the locals. In church he is introduced to Reverend Moore’s daughter, Ariel (Hough), who has done her best to avoid being the proper “preacher’s daughter.” She and Ren have nothing in common, except for a desire to dance. Anytime. Anyplace.

I have to give director and co-writer (he shares credit with original “Footloose” scribe Dean Pitchford) Brewer credit. He has managed to update the story well while still keeping the familiar. Ren’s VW bug. His “angry” dance at the mill. Even that awful maroon tuxedo jacket. But he also gives the film an energy the first film didn’t have. And this is thanks to the cast. A former backup dancer for Justin Timberlake, Wormald shines, both on the dance floor and off, as Ren. “Dancing With The Stars” veteran Hough, resembling Jennifer Anniston’s little sister, makes the most of her screen time as Ariel. She has some of the films more dramatic moments and she pulls them off admirably. Quaid is his usual strong self as Rev. Moore. But the breakout performer here is Miles Teller, who plays Willard, the cowboy with two left feet. Played so winningly by the late Chris Penn in 1984, Teller gives Willard a sweetness Penn only hinted at. The only false note in the cast is Patrick John Flueger, who plays Ariel’s car racing boyfriend, Chuck. Not only is he about 20 years too old for Ariel, his character is strictly “bad boyfriend 101.” Fans of the original film (and soundtrack) will enjoy new versions of some old hits, including a rendition of “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” that’s as sweet as it is catchy.

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