Footloose

13 Nov

Title: Footloose
Year: 2011
Director: Craig Brewer
Writers: Craig Brewer and Dean Pitchford, based on a story and the screenplay for the original film by Mr. Pitchford
Starring: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell
MPAA Rating: PG-13, some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence and language
Runtime: 113 min
Major Awards: –
IMDb Rating: 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

A big part of me wasn’t interested at all in seeing this movie because I thought the original film with Kevin Bacon was just a classic part of the eighties and it didn’t really warrant somebody making a remake of it. But then there was another part of me that was interested in the remake, because the somebody in charge of making it was Craig Brewer, the guy who gave us Hustle & Flow, and hadn’t directed a film since Black Snake Moan in 2006, so I very interested in seeing what a guy with his credentials would bring to such a classic eighties musical film. And I was surprised with what he brought to the material, because even though he really got some new fresh energy into the film that will definitely make it worthwhile for a whole new generation that isn’t familiar to the original, he also stays seriously close every single move that first film made, and I didn’t anticipate this one being such a faithful remake from this kind of director.

So that’s kind of what I thought, this ended up being a remake that, while still absolutely unnecessary, was still a really fun couple of hours. Instead of Kevin Bacon we now have newcomer Kenny Wormald as Ren, the big city teenager who loves him some dancing but who gets moved to a small town in Georgia after his mother’s passing. However, in that small town, after some teens have recently died, dancing and “lewd” music have been banned, so you get Ren trying to show the elder people in the town that dancing is really just fun, and kids should be allowed to do it.

I quite liked the fact that you had Mr. Brewer here to helm this one, this is a guy who’s remarkably good at giving us this kind of emotionally volatile and edgier sorts of characters, and who does all of that while making his films really quite sensual to watch. And he actually manages to embed those qualities in Footloose, as far along as its PG-13 rating would allow, knowing where a latent sense of libido was underlying in the original and subtly uncorking all of that in this remake, giving this really hot-and-bothered energy to the small town kids which gives this one a really sexy and riskier mood to balance out with the wholesomeness represented by the town in the first place.

Alongside Mr. Wormald we have the lovely Julianne Hough, who I knew from her years as a pro dancer of the Dancing with the Stars troupe and who, after having a small supporting role in last year’s Burlesque (which I gave a C+ to), is getting her well-deserved Hollywood break with films like this as well as next year’s film adaptation of the musical Rock of Ages alongside stars such as Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand, the latter of which will also be joining her in Diablo Cody’s upcoming directorial debut, entitled Lamb of God. But yeah, I really like Ms. Hough, I think she’s great and she’s obviously a seriously talented dancer and a terrifically charismatic girl who here plays the local minister’s daughter who, of course, takes a liking to Ren, much to her uptight father’s dismay, who can’t bear the though of her daughter spending time with a kid who likes to drive quite fast and is well-versed in the horrible art of rock and roll.

I honestly loved what Mr. Brewer did with the material here, and he really was a tremendously inspiredly off-beat choice by the studio to take the reigns on such a project. I mean, he got a premise that even twenty-five years ago seemed a tad laughably corny, and had to make it seem serious and, most importantly, timely in the twenty-first century in which many of the actions and values represented in the original film have gone to waste. And even though the film sometimes plays like a shot-for-shot reenactment of the original, Mr. Brewer finds a way to amp up the texture, playing with the sexuality of the times and giving this one a pulse that very much resonates with today’s teenagers. I mean, don’t get me wrong, even with the amped up sexuality this one has in display, the whole religious tightening up of the situation still feels cartoonish and dated, but that’s the ridiculousness the film had from the get-go, and at least by putting some sex and style into it he made it much more fun to watch.

Not to mention that the music is really well used here, and the choreography is splendid and really seems to have this quite organic spur-of-the-moment feel in the movie and not feel like an overly-rehearsed act. And I guess Mr. Brewer was going for that effect, with Mr. Wormald and Ms. Hough having far more dancing than acting experience he shows he just wanted a high energy film. Yes, this one plays out just like the original you may have already seen, and maybe the acting in that one was better, but, silly as it may sound, the fact that the dancing is hotter and the sexual overtones are more pronounced in this version are more than enough to set it apart into its own, and it serves as a lesson that new stuff like that put together with a slew of more tradition cinematic clichés in the hands of a capable director can make for a good time at the movies.

Grade: B-

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