Footloose (2011)

There’s something about the song and the old movie Footloose that just make a person feel good. Maybe it’s the reckless abandon and joy in the song, which is matched by the personalities and dancing in the film. Whatever it is, I love both of them dearly, so it was with some trepidation that I entered the theater for Footloose (2011).

Happily, the new version is pretty much the same thing as the old version, with fun songs, pretty engaging performances, and exciting dance and fight scenes.

Here’s a preview:

And now, the deets:

Released October 14, 2011

Written by Craig Brewer and Dean Pitchford

Directed by Craig Brewer

Starring: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell, and Miles Teller

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First off, the new Footloose is very much a faithful remake of the old one. It’s not scene for scene the same, but the dynamics are very much the same, the characters are the same but modernized, and the action follows pretty much the same arc. Happily, the new version is a lot of fun and is thoroughly entertaining.

It doesn’t say anything different than the first one. The overall message is that teens need space to make their own choices and making restrictions that are too tight on teens will only push them away. Oh, and music and dancing are necessary parts of the teen experience.

So with the movie not saying anything different, or in a more fresh way, and pretty much telling the same story, you kind of end up asking, “Why?”

I don’t have the answer for you. But now maybe a bunch of young people will see the new version and then want to see the original Footloose. And since I love that movie so well, that’s not a bad thing.

If nothing else, Footloose (2011) is full of engaging actors (most of whom are far too good-looking for reality to get in the way) and has exciting dance scenes. It’s not boring at any point in the movie.

Story

Newcomer Kenny Wormald plays Ren MacCormack, a transplant from Boston, MA to Bomont, whatever state. Lucky for Kenny, his natural accent works for the character and one can’t help but wonder if the writers chose his origin as Boston for this reason. Then you’ve got Julianne Hough playing the part of, Ariel Moore, the rebel teenage daughter of the preacher who got dancing and loud music banned.

You know the story of this film, so I will very briefly summarize. Due to a horribly tragic accident, Rev. Shaw Moore (Quaid) pushed the city council to outlaw public dancing and loud music. Years later, the teenagers are still dancing, but on the sly and they get in trouble. Moore’s daughter, Ariel, is particularly rebellious, as is made clear by her extra revealing attire and her hanging out with a real malcontent punk by the name of Chuck. Moore’s wife (MacDowell), tries to keep the fireworks between these two hardheads under control.

Then Ren shows up and shacks up with his uncle and his uncle’s family (which consists of two adorable young girls who have a film-stealing singing scene). Ren is stunned to learn that dancing and loud music are banned in Bomont. He makes a friend in Willard, played deftly and with some joy by Miles Teller, and the two’s chemistry adds a great deal to the movie.

The rest of the movie plays out as you’d expect. Ren and Ariel have sparks, but must contend with the preacher and the bad boy. A dance needs to happen to bring some life back to the town, but that means the law has to change. So Ren tries to get the law to change. It all culminates in a big dance, which at parts is scene for scene the same as the original Footloose.

Critique

Mr. Wormald does a surprisingly good job for his first outing. He doesn’t have a lot of levels, and so when it’s time for him to give a stirring speech or really emote a descent into extreme frustration, it’s not really there, but that’s okay. He’s engaging and not heavy-handed. He’s no Kevin Bacon.

But Kevin Bacon’s no Kenny Wormald, either. And Mr. Wormald can cut a rug. This boy has movesGuy kills the dance scenes dead. And he clearly enjoys dancing.

Hough, of course, can dance too. It’s obvious that these actors are nowhere near high school age, and that is particularly clear in Hough’s case. That said, Hough, can both dance and act. She is pretty convincing as a young woman who’s unsure of herself and is emotionally very needy. And I’ll tell you what, she and Kenny light up the screen when they dance.

The movie is good. It hits the right notes, doesn’t pull the few punches it throws (literally in some cases) and motivates its characters more or less sufficiently. You want to forget your nagging question as to how a bunch of kids who have been banned from dancing still have such good moves, and you want to forget this because there is a very nice, lighthearted, joy infusing much of the movie.

The movie’s got a good heart. So you will enjoy it and not regret going to see it. You might wonder why it had to be made, but that question fades as you sit back and enjoy the experience of a simple story well told.

Content warnings: Teens doing lots of stuff: drinking, sexual activities, speaking angrily to authority figures, some drug content. Some profanity, but nothing serious. It’s like the Fight Club version of High School Musical.

Writing: 4          Acting: 5          Overall: 4

Don’t believe me? See if my review matches those on Rotten Tomatoes.

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About jared

Jared Garrett works as a writer, the manager of a program development department in the corporate world, and an instructional designer. He is a family man with an adorable, fun, and way-too-smart wife, six silly kids, a new house with an overgrown back yard, seven fish, and a bunch of chickens. He has written fiction, user manuals, SEO copy, radio scripts and textbooks and has won first place in the Mayhew writing contest at BYU and received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. He lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and is currently seeking representation for his myriad completed novels.
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