Sunday, October 16, 2011


So I would really like to sit and write out my own thoughts on the remake of Footloose but I have found a kindred spirit as far as my taste in movies. Their name is Movie Freak 97. This is their review and it says for the most part what I would love to say but I don't have the time to sit down and write out. All I will say is this remake pays tribute to the original, but each character is given their own unique story and are actually in my opinion better developed. You learn why challenging the law is so important to Ren and why Ariel is so rebellious and lost. I loved a lot of the small changes throughout the movie and I was highly surprised by Julianne Hough. I was skeptical at first but now, I will have to eat my words. Overall there were so many bright spots with the dancing and so many funny moments (particularly Willard) that this movie was easily a B+ maybe even an A.

Now. . . without further adieu Movie Freak speak MY MIND

And it simply couldn't be so. A remake of an 80's classic? The film that defined the musical nature of its generation? Sure it's an entertaining movie, but in a mindless fun kind of way. In any case, I was still only hoping for SOME of the fun the original brought to the table from the remake. I was expecting a mildly entertaining popcorn flick held together only by a soundtrack reusing iconic songs and a few solid dance sequences. I was even prepared for a guilty pleasure. I was not expecting a great film.

From the first shot of the Paramount logo with Kenny Loggins' flawless rendition of the title song booming in the background to the toe-tapping finale with Blake Shelton's new rendition, writer/director and a multitude of talented actors/dancers had me smiling. Their film may be tremendously faithful to Herbert Ross' and Dean Pitchford's original, but they've doubled the fun, doubled the energy, and doubled the heart. It's an accomplishment no remake has ever made before and one not likely to made again anytime soon.

The basic story remains unchanged. The small town of Bomont sits peacefully off the map and outlaws
public dancing of all kinds. At the head of the town council sits Rev. Shaw Moore, a dedicated preacher desperate to keep his congregation, and more importantly his family out of harm's way. But, he's losing touch with his rebellious daughter Ariel who appears to be the play toy of local racing star Chuck, but in reality, she's holding out for a hero. When big city kid Ren McCormack comes to town with music in his soul, he takes up arms with Ariel and other local teenager to fight the dance ban.

It may look and seem like a shot-for-shot word-for-word rehash at first glance (and at times it actually is), but the few changes Brewer makes to the narrative, be it the expansion on the backstory or the re-arrangement of a few key scenes are all for the better. Any and all problems I had previously had with the original are nowhere to be found in Brewer's screenplay. The narrative is tighter, the characters are more compelling, and the film builds its dance sequences around the story rather than building its story around the dance sequences.

But, the film wouldn't work half as well if it weren't for the strengths in its actors. Kenny Wormald lights up the screen as Ren, filling Kevin Bacon's shoes with a strong-willed and fully realized performance. And to top it off, he's an infinitely better dancer. But the real surprise is Julianne Hough as Ariel. I was never a fan of the character in the original and I found Lori Singer's performance to be whiney, shallow, and irritating. Hough is all of those things, but at the same time she's sweet, sexy, and sensitive. And as her character matures, so does her performance. Veteran actors Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell both get their respective moments to shine as Ariel's parents and Miles Teller, let's hear it for the boy, steals the show as Ren's best pal Willard, offering up the most inspired performance in the film and tremendous comic relief.

And then there's the dancing. How is it? It's beautifully shot, breathtakingly choreographed, and just flat-out awesome. And like I said before, the dancing is built around the story. Ren's breakdown in the barn feels so real, so......necessary. And Wormald's intensity with the choreography only emphasizes the emotional toll his character is taking in. A country line dance around midpoint serves as a comic highpoint, mainly due to Willard, and of course, the climactic dance in the mill is fantastic. It's mostly modern dancing, yes, but there are some classic moves thrown into the mix for those who are skeptical on today's methods.

The original Footloose is and always will be an 80's classic. I wholeheartedly respect that and won't try to change anyone's mind, but that isn't going stop me from enjoying this update all the more. Ross' film may have come first and introduced us to the music, but Brewer has injected the story with the energy that Ross forgot to bring to the table. There was a time for the 80s, but not anymore. This is our time. This is the moment for all those my age to experience that sense of freedom our parents did with the original. All I can say is this: Regardless of one's stance on Kevin Bacon, Kenny Loggins, or anyone else involved beforehand, one thing is certain, Footloose 2011 is the feel good movie of the year. Not because of some heavy-handed message or corny moral, but simply because it reminds us that, no matter how bad things may get, there is and always will be a time, to cut loose.


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