Kevin Bacon’s iconic role in the 1984 version of “Footloose” will always have a special place in the hearts of film aficionados. His powerful and emotional dance scene in an abandoned warehouse is a film sequence that will never be forgotten.
The idea that Director Craig Brewer (“Black Snake Moan”) could direct a remake of the classic seemed unthinkable. However, what few expected was an excellent retelling of the plot in an updated setting, which actually makes the remake worthwhile.
“Footloose,” playing in theaters tomorrow, presents Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald, “Center Stage: Turn It Up”) adjusting to small town life in the South after moving in with his uncle (Ray McKinnon, “The Blind Side”). Upon his arrival, Ren’s energetic and rebellious New England personality does not prepare him for a town still grieving from a car accident three years prior that resulted in the deaths of five teenagers and caused the city council to ban a number of teen activities, including dancing.
Although the law forbids dancing, teens still engage in the activity. The dance numbers throughout the film are well choreographed by Jamal Sims, whose previous work includes popular dance films “Hairspray” and “Step Up.”
Wormald is a passionate dancer and moves flawlessly across the screen throughout the film’s numbers. He also partners well with “Dancing with the Stars” professional Julianne Hough, who plays Ariel Moore, the daughter of the town’s preacher, Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid, “Soul Surfer”).
Hough’s professional dancing skills add a sexy element to a film that clearly emphasizes a change in times since Kevin Bacon starred in the film. Her character dons cowboy boots and tight jean shorts rather than the 1960s dresses of the original film. Instead of playing chicken with trailers, the town’s boys compete with each other by racing abandoned buses.
The complex father-daughter relationship between Quaid and Hough’s characters will be relatable for any parent familiar with the struggles involved in looking out for his or her child’s best interests. Quaid’s determination to protect the teenagers of the town from outside dangers is reflected well in the deep emotional stress of his facial expressions.
The film also provides an entertaining and exciting soundtrack. Kenny Loggins’ original “Footloose” track makes an appearance at the beginning of the film, and a new version covered by Blake Shelton is played during the final dance sequence. Shelton’s country-inflected voice blends well with the modernity of the film. However, it ultimately lacks the excitement and enthusiasm of Loggins’ original track.
Miles Teller (“Rabbit Hole”) plays a scene-stealing role as Ren’s humorous friend Willard Hewitt. During the film, Willard reveals he is incapable of dancing. In a playful dance scene in which Ren teaches Willard to dance, another familiar song from the original film, “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” makes an appearance.
Teller brings a cheerful demeanor that stands out from the rest of the cast. He manages to portray a character lacking in self-confidence in the beginning, but towards the end, he proudly confronts his issues and dances his way into the audiences hearts.
From the moment the camera focused on the dancing shoes tapping the floor, the audience couldn’t help but bounce in their seats. By the end of the film, there were nothing but smiles, because that was all that could truly express the happiness of the final dance scene.
One of the best aspects of the film is a viewer of any age can enjoy its entertainment value. Although the same can be said about many movies, this storyline is unique in the way that it looks at a town struggling from multiple perspectives. Through all the stress and emotions of the characters, dance becomes a hobby through which the town bonds and forms closer relationships.
The cast and characters of this euphoric film successfully manage to make their mark on a well-done remake of a classic story. Although the storyline is the same, there is no apparent desire to mirror the original exactly; the style of the remake more than manages to appeal to a modern audience.
“Footloose” should satisfy entertainment cravings for all groups of audiences with its romance, humor, dance and family-based story lines. In all it’s an exciting adventure that encourages everyone to, as songwriter Loggins would have it in the titular track, “Lose your blues; everybody cut footloose!”
3.5 stars out of 5