For as long as I can remember, my mom has counted the original Footloose among her favorite movies of all time. In fact, one day when I was home for winter break during college she found out I had never seen it and made me sit down and watch it. When the remake rolled out this fall, I knew, despite my mom's reservations, I had to drag her out to see it.
Even as a devoted fan of corny '80s movies, I still I thought the premise of the film was ridiculous. Five teens die in a car accident after a party and in order to prevent this from happening again the tiny town of Bomont, Georgia, outlaws minors from, among other things, dancing. Really? OK, I can understand a curfew, but seriously, dancing?
Three years after the tragic accident, Ren McMormack (originally played by Bacon, this time portrayed by Kenny Wormald) moonwalks into the southern town from Boston (Bacon's Ren hailed from Chicago) to live with his uncle and his family. Ren sees the silliness of this law and sets out to get the dance ban lifted and win the heart of the reverend's (Dennis Quaid) daughter, Ariel (originally played by Lori Singer, currently played by Dancing with the Stars' Julianne Hough).
Surprisingly enough, my mom only once leaned over to say something to me during the whole movie and it was more of a clarification for my sake rather than the critique I'd been expecting. As soon as we got out of the theater, I asked what she thought. She told me it was pretty good... or at least not as bad as she thought it'd be. I suppose when expectations are as low as ours were upon entering the theater, it's hard to be disappointed.
I saw the original Footloose only once, long ago, so it's not very current in my mind. All I really remember is when Ren screams out, "Let's dance!" at the end of the film, which I can say Bacon did much better than Wormald. While in my mom's eyes Wormald is no Bacon, she and I both thought he did a pretty decent job filling his dancing shoes. Though I doubt anyone will be playing six degrees of Kenny Wormald anytime soon, or ever.
As the story goes along, it follows the original pretty tightly, with the exception of the integration of modern technology - a la the iPod. But there was no tractor race this time around, sadly. Here, we see Ariel's boyfriend, Chuck (Patrick John Flueger), race Ren in a pair of pimped-out school buses at Chuck's dad's racetrack.
I expected my mom to have much more criticism of the movie, but surprisingly most of her outrage was directed at the trailer. Her biggest critique of the film came in Hough's performance. In Hough's first starring role outside of the ballroom, we both agreed she did a fine acting job, but her downfall was in her lack of attitude. In the original version, Ariel has more attitude than fat on her skinny legs, and Hough definitely could have toughened up and bitched-out more.
The question remains, is the remake better than the original? Well, that of course, depends on who you are. A friend of mine watched the original and the remake back to back this weekend and she actually preferred the remake. My mom, though, still favored the original. Maybe despite lingering reservations by fans of original films, remakes can work if they are done in a way that brings the story into the present while still honoring the original. All I know is that I haven't been able to get that "Footloose" song out of my head all weekend. Damn you, Kenny Loggins!
3 and 1/2 Stars
Starring Kenny Wormald,
Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid
Directed by Craig Brewer