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“Footloose” [2011] – Early Review (POSITIVE)

October 12, 2011

Before I start my review, I need to get this off my chest, because, something’s going on with Hollywood. Apparently, the studio ex’s have a real hard on for 80s movies. 80s movie they already made to begin with, made them success, and think, ‘Hey it worked once, lets do it again!’ “The Thing”“Footloose”“Terminator”“Dirty Dancing”,  “Robocop”, are getting touch ups in their own way, to please today’s youthful generation. I think it’s sad that Hollywood relies too much on sequels, remakes, and reboots to make a quick buck. There are so many talented young indie filmmakers out there, who have the creative mindset that this industry needs, but that doesn’t seem to be the case these days.

Now, the director of this particular remake, Craig Brewster, he’s an interesting case, with an interesting minimal body of work. His first feature, “The Poor & the Hungry” is an up in your face dirty gritty southern movie.  He follows soon after with his Oscar-winning film, “Hustle & Flow”, where a Memphis pimps wants to be a music icon. And, finally he released the cult“Black Snake Moan”, if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a big favor and do so. So, when I recently learned that Brewer was directing “Footloose”, my attention was finally caught. Brewer seems to like telling stories about the South. Apparently the real interesting characters come from Atlanta, Tennessee, Mississippi, and so on.

I’m pleased to report that after going in with an open mind, I actually liked this “Footloose”remake. Sure, it embodies so much of the original film. But, it’s Brewer’s niche for understanding Southerners. How they talk, how they act, their environment, that what made it I think a little bit better than the original. Fans of the original don’t be hatin’, but I’m not a fan of the original. I respected it for it’s cultural impact of 80’s nostalgia, and launching Kevin Bacon’s career, but nothing more really after that. Which surprised, I must say after seeing this version.

Like the story goes, fellow Boston city boy, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves into the small town of Bomont, Atlanta, after his mother recently died of cancer. The town of Bomont has a few new laws, where rock ‘n’ roll and dancing have been banned, after the sudden loss of five high seniors, who were killed in a car accident, after too much partying. Ren’s rebellious spirit shakes up the populace once he makes his mark on the town. The town Reverend (Dennis Quaid) has made sure that the law was abided by for the past three years. Ren has different plans, as he plans to fight for and everybody else’s right to dance.

Like I said, the movie is quite close to the original. The climactic ending, both Ren & Ariel (Julianne Hough) wear the same dance clothes that Kevin Bacon & Lori Singer wore in the ’84 film. There are some nice nods for fans. The Kenny Loggins classic theme opens the movie as does it close the film too, you’ll be sure to have that stuck in your head for the next…year.

What really resonates the movie, is the familiar themes of the power of Church., Church vs. State, freedom of speech, these strong themes that I guess at the time the original came out, they made these themes apparent but I guess there wasn’t a strong connection to it. With the world we live in today, it seems more kinetic for the audience. The film also goes into clash with the techno-age, iPods and texting. The music has change in the past 20 some odd years. The soundtrack works quite nicely for this movie; you’ve got a blend of old vs. new age. Don’t be surprised if the person next to you starts tapping his/her feet rhythmically. The dancing in this movie was…WOW, quite something, unlike the “Step-Up” series, the dancing in this film, at least for me, was a lot tougher, meaner, and truly in your face. I guess the filmmakers said, ‘We need to do what they did in the original, but 10-times better!’

The characters, yes, some of them are cheesy. The character of Willard (Miles Teller) will definitely be a hit or miss for some people. To me I actually enjoyed his comedic dynamics with Kenny Wormald. The cast has fun with it, they go with it, you know how it is. Kenny Wormald, who comes from a strict dancing background, really shines in this film; he’d make Kevin Bacon proud I’m sure. Look, in a nutshell, all I’m really saying is, go in with an open mind. It’s a fun movie, plenty of classic one-liners, it recreates a 80s classic that people enjoyed before, and now they can reintroduce it to a younger audience. This is one of those rare occasions where the remake does its predecessor justice. Honestly, I don’t think this movie would’ve work without the right director; Craig Brewer seems to be the only ideal choice.

GRADE: B

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