As a teenager growing up in the 80′s, the original ‘Footloose’ was the go-to movie for memorable quotes, classic dance moves, and the best all around “sticking it to authority figures” storyline a girl my age at that time could dream of. Imagine my pleasure, then, when a couple of decades or so later, a remake of Footloose has me feeling almost as giddy as my former 13 year old self-and the urge to get up and dance was calling my name—LOUDLY.
THE GOOD: I’ll be perfectly honest and say that, although I loved the original version of the film, there is a part of me that feels just a little bit embarrassed when I watch it now—mostly because of the dated hair and clothing styles. And let’s be frank: who dances like that anymore? I mean, besides nerdy middle aged people like myself. The 80′s version is a classic and has it’s charm, but you are probably going to be hard pressed to get many of today’s generation to see it as anything other than “a lame movie that my parents made me watch”. That’s quoting one of my teenage sons, verbatim. So, given all that, I was thrilled with the idea of updating an already great movie, in hopes that a whole new generation could appreciate it. And the added bonus is that it has given me a new version to love as well.
It’s hard to replace an actor like Kevin Bacon in the role of Ren McCormack, the big city kid who moves to small town Bomont after the death of his mother, to live with his Aunt and Uncle-but Kenny Wormald does the part justice and was a great choice. He has the look and attitude of someone who definitely doesn’t belong in an uptight community that has outlawed public dancing, due to the tragic death of some teenagers several years earlier. Then he meets Ariel (played by Julianne Hough), the preacher’s troubled daughter, and he finds his struggles with the town authorities are just beginning. And may I just add here: the boy can dance. Most people know that Julianne Hough has a lot of talent in this area as well, but Wormald can definitely hold his own. The storyline varies a little from the original, but I loved how it stayed true to most of the iconic scenes, especially the ‘angry dance routine’ in the warehouse—this time around there is so much anger and frustration felt, it kind of makes Kevin Bacon’s version look like he was skipping through a poppy field. And as excellent as all the new cast members were, the standout was clearly Miles Teller who plays Willard, the back woods country boy who befriends Ren-and who absolutely CANNOT dance. He was incredibly funny and charming, and watching him move in the end was just plain fun.
THE BAD: Although I mentioned that some artistic license was taken with the storyline, most of the dialogue from the original was in place-which wasn’t always a positive thing. I think that when you are remaking a movie and trying to modernize it a little, it’s perfectly okay to update the wording of conversations as well. Some cheesy lines remained—although, in fairness, the updated dance moves kind of made up for it. On a personal note, the original was filmed (in part) in my mother’s hometown of Lehi, Utah, so I have to admit I was a little disappointed that the old Lehi Roller Mills was nowhere to be seen in this new take–of course,Lehi is no longer the tiny town it was 30 years ago, and I think the aforementioned Roller Mills now has a Walmart and a Taco John’s on either side, which probably wouldn’t contribute to that small town feeling they were aiming for. Change is inevitable I guess.
THE UGLY: Normally this is the part of my review where I sound off about people or plotlines in the movie that were just BEYOND unbearable, but this time around, I have very little to complain about. However, if Southern redneck trailer trash offends you, be warned that Chuck Cranston (played by Patrick John Flueger) and his buddies are about one step away from hillbilly inbreds. Still, they aren’t nearly as offensive as I thought Lori Singer (the actress who played the original ‘Ariel’) was. Just sayin’.
Although I will always love the original version of Footloose-despite it’s bad wardrobe choices-this 2011 version has given me a whole new cast to appreciate and new dance moves to incorporate into my repertoire—well, maybe in my head at least. Maybe I can even convince my son that THIS Footloose is actually sort of cool. Or whatever word they use now for “really good”.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
Footloose has a running time of 1 hr 53 minutes and is rated PG13 for some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence, and language. (No F words)
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