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Footloose has beat and cadence of the original

Ok, so I have to admit I’ve been wrong on every level about the remake of Footloose. I thought it would bomb, it opened with 16 million in sales which is a juggernaut in October.
I thought it was the worst kind of Hollywood whoremongering, picking the bones from the corpse of a Hollywood classic. Ok there’s some argument as to whether the original is a classic, but I liked it a lot. Well, it turns out that the director Craig Brewer loved the original. As the story goes, he recorded the audio music and dialogue, and listened to it every day on his way to school. So it’s more an homage to his adolescent memory than just economic necrophilia. I thought his first film Hustle and Flow was absolutely great, and he clearly has the beat and cadence of the original Footloose. The dialogue is better, the updates more relevant and it’s a little funnier and maybe even a bit sexier.
Finally, I thought it would be a waste of time and film, and it isn’t.
It’s actually quite charming and lots of fun.
As the story goes, Ren MacCormick comes to small town America to live with his uncle after his mom dies. Kevin Bacon, who played the original Ren, was offered a part as new Ren’s deadbeat dad, but he wisely passed.
Ren is different. He doesn’t drive a truck, or wear a cowboy hat, or see a family reunion as a dating opportunity, so he stands out.
This catches the interest and attention of Ariel, the minister’s daughter, who wants to be a bad girl in the worst possible way and figures the express lane is to hook up with the weirdo from the city.
They have fun.
He’s different.
He likes music and finds out very quickly that there’s no dancing allowed in town because Ariel’s brother was killed in a car crash coming home from a dance.
Ok, here’s the only problem with the film.
We live in the time of cyberbullying and Columbine. Kids are armed with at least knives and when you steal Bubba’s girl he’s just as likely to bust a cap in your butt as he is to punch you.
So watching teens struggle with an archaic bylaw requires a stretch in terms of suspending the critical capacity.
But I digress.
They went for dancers in the lead role and that was a good choice. I really like Bacon so trying to capture his charisma/presence would have been a mistake so just get a really good dance. Kenny Wormald works, and he has that kind of Glee energy. Everybody’s walking around just waiting to break out into song.
Julianne Hough comes from Dancing With The Stars and she’s also very good on her feet. She seems a little out of place as a high school student but ok, I’ll play along.
Dennis Quaid shuffles through the Rev Moore role and despite the fact that John Lithgow is a serious pant load I liked his turn as the repressed, afraid-of-life small-town minister.
Ren and Ariel have best friends, the most notable being Willard which was originally played by the late Chris Penn. This year’s model is funnier and more interesting, although Penn brought his own clumsy fun to the original.
The whole movie works. Well, except for Ren’s angry dance which was awkward in the original and even thinner here. It’s forgivable but yikes.
For introducing a new generation to a great film I think Footloose 2011 is well done. It’s fun and light and clearly comes from  a place of love and respect. I like that.
If they were both playing on TV at the same time I’d watch the original hands down. Hey, I’m an old guy. I need to desperately cling to the past.
However, if I was looking for a good two-hour escape, I’d fire this bad boy up no problem. It’s fun, and that’s not a bad thing at all.
I liked it and I’m a big enough man to admit when I’m wrong. Hey I’m a big enough man I could pass for a billboard, but that’s another story.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: Paul Peterson

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  1. janet says:

    Hooray that we found you again! Will tune in regularly now. Love your stuff. Go Paul.

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