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McCoy on Movies: Footloose Movie Review

McCoy on Movies: Footloose Movie Review
This flick remakes one of the early 80s' most beloved teen films, but does the 2011 version of
Footloose dance with the stars or have two left feet? Keep reading to find out!

 

 

"You know, it's a good thing we're all so good at this - otherwise this simultaneous dance number might look a little awkward and uncoordinated!" Ariel Moore (Julianne Hough) and Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) kick it in high gear in a scene from Craig Brewer's update of Footloose.
Credit: K.C. Bailey / © 2011 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

KEY CAST MEMBERS:
Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell, Miles Teller, Ziah Colon, Ray McKinnon, Ser-Darius Blain, Patrick John Flueger and a bunch of other people who are way too in-shape and/or old to be playing high school students at this point in their careers
WRITER(S):
Craig Brewer and Dean Pitchford; original screenplay by Dean Pitchford
DIRECTOR:
Craig Brewer
WEB SITE:
www.footloosemovie.com
THE PLOT:
An updated take on the 1984 smash hit, the 2011 version of Footloose stars newcomer Kenny Wormald as Ren McCormack, a teenager (now from Boston instead of Chicago, as in the original film) who moves to Bomont, Ga. (population just over 19,000) following his mother's death from Leukemia.

 

Moving in with his uncle Wes (Ray McKinnon) and aunt (Kim Dickens) and their two young girls (played by young darlings Mary-Charles and Maggie Elizabeth Jones), Ren quickly discovers he is a fish out of water in Bomont, where loud music and dancing are against the law.

 

Three years ago, five Bomont High School seniors died in a car crash after a dance (where they had also been drinking). And looking to protect the town, Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) helped enact ordinances outlawing loud music and dancing. And for a dance-happy former gymnast like Ren, that just doesn't work. Although Ren's life in Bomont is eased by the development of a newfound best friend in Willard (Miles Teller), there is someone else who has also taken notice of the new kid in town: Ariel (Julianne Hough), rebel wild child daughter of Reverend Moore who is dating race car driver Chuck Cranston (Patrick John Flueger). But c'mon - there's a new kid in town with his own style and car who challenges the status quo? I think we can all see where this is heading.

 

If you don't know, you might want to check out the original, so you want be so surprised once Ren decides the time has come to challenge the law so every one can - cue theme music - get footloose.

 

THE TAKE: There are a couple of things I need to mention that will allow you to [1] stop here if you can't believe what I'm about to say or [2] love (or hate) the original 1984 film with a passion - and that's this: Footloose, the 2011 version, for what it is, isn't horrible.

 

The best way I might sum this up would be to say it's a lot like what happened with another 1984 film that was recently remade - pardon me, "re-envisioned" - that film being The Karate Kid. Although there was (and still is) no need to remake Ralph Macchio's career-defining work, Hollywood did it anyway - and it worked in terms of both audience reception and box office receipts. You can throw the 2011 version of Footloose into the exact same category in terms of quality, for although it (like the original) has its cheesy moments, for what it is, the film is not all that bad.

 

Sure, there are plenty of things about the 2011 version that, depending on how you look at it, either improve, continue or disparage the cheesy legacy of the original. For one, it features actors that look like they should be paying mortgages as opposed to studying highschool-level chemistry. Also, just about everyone in the school dances like a professional, despite the fact the activity has been banned for three-plus years. Lastly, some of the new film's soundtrack would be cheesy even by 80s standards (and that's saying something).

 

Those three factors notwithstanding, Footloose entertains more than it agitates thanks to the subtle (well, except for one comically cheesy soliloquy sequence) acting by Wormald and the entertaining, well-choreographed dance sequences. As opposed to playing Ren as some slick northerner, he simply makes his version of Ren a regular guy trying to adjust to a new situation and trying to make the best of it. Although his mother's passing lays heavy on his heart, he never uses it as a crutch, instead embracing it as best he can in a "live for the moment" mentality. He's not trying to be the cool kid - he's just trying to be himself. This in turn makes him the cool kid, and that works very well in the film.

 

Likewise, thanks to all the movies or TV shows that have helped make the activity more prevalent in the American conscious, the dancing found in Footloose is pretty good. And really, that's pretty much all anyone who wants to see this movie will likely care about. (Yes, there's a romance between Wormald and Hough that's okay, too, but co-writer/director Craig Brewer does his best to not let that get in the way of everyone's two-stepping.)

 

Helping keeps things light and hearty is Teller's presence as Willard. Teller does a great job at making all of his relationships in the film feel genuine, bringing a great sense of humor and happiness while embracing all of his character's foibles to a point. He's arguably the most memorable. The same can be said for McKinnon's performance as Ren's uncle, dolling out both a mix of adult wisdom and youthful understanding to play against Quaid's super-stern but polite reverend.

 

Side rant: Is there any way we can get Quaid into a Judd Apatow-style comedy soon? The man needs a laugh desperately after years and years of playing the serious father figure! Okay, now back to the review.

 

Longstanding Dancing With The Stars fans will likely enjoy Hough's performance, too, even if it is a bit uneven at times and fairly one-dimensional for the most part. (Summing up her character in two words: "Daddy issues.") There are times when she channels her inner (and outer) Jennifer Aniston, so it will be interesting to see where her career goes from here.

 

All in all, save for some expected ridiculousness and questionable acting by Ziah Colon as Willard's girlfriend and Ariel's best friend Rusty, Footloose 2011 does not dishonor the 1984 version.

 

PARTING SHOT: A film that has more in common with The Breakfast Club than it does, say, Footloose will likely get a new generation dancing in the streets - as long as it's not against the law to do so.

 

RATING (OUT OF FOUR BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

Tabari McCoy -

Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. You can check out more of his work on his blog at McCoyonMovies.BlogSpot.com and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy

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