by Ryan Hill
The original “Footloose,” which helped make Kevin Bacon a star, is one of those films that was perfect for the year it was released, 1984. With a classic theme song by Kenny Loggins, lots of dancing and just the right amount of cheesiness, “Footloose,” for better or worse, stands as a perfect example of what movies in the ’80s were all about. It would be near lunacy to try to remake this movie in 2011, right? Right?
That hasn’t stopped Paramount Pictures from remaking the film, the difficulty of which fell to director Craig Brewer, who previously directed the outstanding “Hustle & Flow” and the not-so-outstanding “Black Snake Moan.”
For the uninitiated, “Footloose” is about Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald), who moves from Boston to a small Georgia town to live with his aunt and uncle. It doesn’t take long for him to unwittingly get into trouble in his new town, which has outlawed dancing and loud music after an accident three years earlier killed five kids, including the preacher’s (Dennis Quaid) son. To make matters worse for Ren, he’s falling for the preacher’s daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough).
It’s clear from the first frame this remake is about paying tribute to the original and engendering nostalgia with the audience, as the original “Footloose” theme song plays over the opening credits and the kids sing and dance to it. It isn’t until later that Blake Shelton’s cover of the song is heard.
For a remake to work, the film has to either improve on what was originally a good idea with poor execution, like “Ocean’s Eleven,” or change things enough to stand on it’s own, like “Fright Night.” “Footloose” does neither, relying entirely too much on nostalgia for the original. Aside from Loggins’ theme, characters wear the same clothes, Ren still drives a busted yellow Volkswagen and there’s not one, but two covers of “Holding Out for a Hero,” the seminal song from another ’80s dance film, “Flashdance.” All of these references to the original film and its era make this new “Footloose” feel like nothing more than a tribute to the original.
The only time “Footloose” feels fresh and alive is when Miles Teller is on the screen. Stepping into the role of Willard, Teller feels like the only cast member allowed to cut loose and enjoy himself. The rest of the movie feels handcuffed by the original, but whenever Willard is around the film comes alive with fun and energy.
With the recent popularity in dance films such as the “Step Up” series, the “Footloose” remake may play like gangbusters to a younger generation unfamiliar with the original film. Sadly, for those of us who remember the original, this remake feels a little too familiar for it to be anything other than another example of Hollywood trying to steal a generation’s childhood, even if they’re trying to be nice about it.
Grade: 2 out of 4
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence and language
Cast: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, -Dennis Quaid
Studio: Paramount Pictures