Gotta Dance

14 Oct

I don’t know who it was that asked for a remake of the seminal Kevin Bacon film Footloose, but it sure wasn’t me. Nevertheless, we now have one in theaters. But before you all get your panties in a bunch and gasp in horror about how Hollywood could possibly do this to one of the greatest movies of our childhoods, I’ll ask you to calm down, take a step back, and remember this one very important fact: The original film wasn’t very good. It may have gained sentimental value over the years, and some people look back on it now with great affection, but Footloose won no awards in its day — not even for its soundtrack. (I know. This is a harsh truth. You’ll thank me later.)

So it’s a mixed blessing, then, that this new Footloose is in many ways a carbon copy of the original, from Kenny Loggins’ title song playing over the same foot-focused opening credits, to the teaching Willard how to dance scene, to the choreography of the final dance, which takes place while Blake Shelton’s countryfied cover of the song plays. Does that mean the film is short on creativity? Sorta. But does it matter? I don’t think so in this case. I mean, like a decent cover version of a beloved song (Shelton’s “Footloose,” for instance), it’s still a good song, even if it’s missing a certain je ne sais quoi and doesn’t sound exactly the same. And that’s pretty much what this Footloose is: A decent cover version of a beloved movie.

If you grew up in the 1980s, then you know the basic plot of the film: City kid Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald, bravely and gamely taking over for Kevin Bacon) moves to Bomont, Georgia, a town where dancing and rock music have been banned (in 2011, that a town could or would ban music seems a bit hard to believe, but oh well). Ren’s rebellious spirit shakes up the town, and catches the attention of the Reverend’s daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough), whose own rebellious spirit gets her into some hot water with her father (Dennis Quaid). Some of the details of the plot have been changed (for example, Ren is now from Boston, not Chicago, and his mother is dead), but nothing too significant. It’s the same movie with a fresh, sexier coat of paint. Again, not necessarily a bad thing. (I’d rather watch Hough shake her tail feather any day than watch Lori Singer. Wouldn’t you?)

Like the original, this Footloose is by no means a great movie, but it does have its moments of fun. Hough and Wormald make a very attractive couple, and those songs you loved in the original still sound great (I’ll admit that my feet and hands were tapping during the opening and closing numbers, and at various other times too). Will you smile when Ren calls out those same bible verses in the city council meeting? Sure. Will you giggle with recognition when Ren throws up the confetti at the end and yells, “Let’s dance!” Totally. If you answered “no” to either of those questions, then this new Footloose isn’t for you. But if you can stomach some awkwardness and tolerate a whole lot of similarities, and if the original film occupies a sweet spot in your memories, then you may just have a surprisingly good time watching this remake. I’m giving Footloose a B.

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