Time to Cut ‘Loose’ Again

Twenty-seven years ago, the ’80s generation was defined by the famous “Footloose.” It featured several famous dance sequences, made Kevin Bacon the star he is today and has become a cult classic over time. But with the way Hollywood seems to be these days, a remake of this classic was bound to happen.

The premise is the same for the most part in comparison to the original, but here’s a refresher in case you’ve never heard of it.

Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) is a city kid who moves from Boston to live with his aunt and uncle in Beaumont, an old-fashioned and uptight small town in Georgia. He soon makes a friend named Willard (Miles Teller), but he’s stricken with disbelief when he finds out that the town has a ban on dancing and loud music. Ren soon musters up the courage to rebel against the law, woo the reverend’s daughter (Julianne Hough) and crack lots of moves on the dance floor.

I am a huge fan of the original “Footloose,” so I completely resented the idea of a remake. In addition, the continuing trend of remakes being worse than the original made me even more skeptical. However, we’re all surprised once in a while by remakes — and I certainly was with this one.

Filling in the shoes of a role that was originally played by Kevin Bacon is pretty tough, but Wormald pulls it off surprisingly well. His look and attitude perfectly fit the rebellious personality of Ren, and his background as a professional dancer makes a spot-on transition to the film’s most pivotal dance sequences.

Hough, who also has a well-known background in dance, does a commendable job as Ariel, the reverend’s rebellious daughter. She puts a lot more energy into the character in comparison to the original, and she has vibrant chemistry with Wormald. Putting two professional dancers with no prior acting experience is a very risky experiment, but Wormald and Hough are a rare pairing that actually works well together.

However, Dennis Quaid was very stiff as Reverend Moore. John Lithgow played the character in the original as if he always had an iron fist over what goes on in the town (Where are you Mr. Mayor?). Quaid’s monotonous delivery of his dialogue made me feel that anyone could easily squash him.

However, it’s director Craig Brewer, who is the real powerhouse behind this surprisingly well done remake. Like his previous films “Hustle & Flow” and “Black Snake Moan,” he proudly stamps his love for the South all over his films, and it’s perfect for this film, since the original had a small valley town setting too.

He also has a good ear for listening to the fans of the original. He stays very true to the plot of the original film while modernizing certain aspects at a respectable level for this new generation of moviegoers.

Furthermore, he and co-writer Dean Pitchford (who wrote the original “Footloose”) peppers the dialogue with moments of humor that are timed very well by the actors — especially Teller.

The music is another high point of this remake, as the movie not only pays homage to the original by incorporating its most famous beats, but also mixes together this generation’s taste in music, too. At one point, it was cool hearing the classic rock of Quiet Riot again, while at another point, I was enthralled by the unexpected instance of a classic Nirvana track playing in the background of a scene. However, there were some tracks that strictly belonged to this generation, which was kind of a letdown.

People have made numerous complaints about the use of rap music in the film based on the trailer, but the film’s dance sequences have a great variety of dancing. Ranging from the down-and-dirty underground scene to the large country mob groups, I guarantee that you won’t walk out of this film without tapping your foot at least a few times. If you’re a fan of the “Step Up” franchise, you’ll be dancing in your seat throughout.

Overall, the remake of “Footloose” was surprisingly well-done and fun to watch. The performances are solid, the dancing is gritty and energetic, and it stays true to the original while still making decent updates at the same time. This isn’t a remake I will see too many times in the future, but for what it is, it certainly reaches its goal of being one of the better remakes this year.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5