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Cut Loose for Recaptured Classic “Footloose”

Mary Claire O'Donnell | Thursday, October 27, 2011


“Footloose” is back, modern but still dance-tastic

It’s hard to remake a classic, to capture the feeling that stole the hearts of so many fans. But Craig Brewer’s 2011 remake of “Footloose,” the 1984 film that featured Kevin Bacon showing off his best moves, is a fitting tribute to the original and a good modern adaptation.

This remake features Kenny Wormald in his first starring role as Ren McCormack, a city kid who moves to a small town and shakes things up.  This time around, though, Ren is from Boston, instead of Chicago, and he brings with him biting Yankee sarcasm. But he still ends up in Bomont, Ga., a small, country town where dancing and loud music is prohibited, a problem for the agile Ren who loves to dance.

He finds himself drawn to the preacher’s daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough), the rebel child who hates the moralizing laws her father (Dennis Quaid) spearheads. She has a boyfriend, though, who doesn’t take kindly to Ren’s obvious attraction for his girl. Ren, though, has his own crew sticking up for him, Willard (Miles Teller), the naïve but lovable redneck and Woody (Ser’Darius Blain), the captain of the football team.

Ren tries to bring change to the town and get the girl by championing an abolition of the dance ban. He wants to have a senior prom and he stands up in front of the town council, quoting scripture, to try and convince them to let the teenagers of Bomont live a little. Ren eventually gets to bring his girl to her first non-church-sponsored dance, which is not without drama or some impressive dance moves.

Overall, the movie is a fantastic modernization of the 80s classic. As great as Kevin Bacon was in those tight jeans and skinny tie, the movie just feels more relatable with the updates. Although some of the dancing seems like pandering to the “Step Up” fan crowd, most stays true to the original film. 

Wormald plays his first lead role well. His Boston accent comes and goes, but his wit and rebel spark are always there. Though his acting performance won’t be winning any Oscars, his angsty, sarcastic teen portrayal is pretty spot on and his dancing more than makes up for any lack of acting talent.  

The only big disappointment in his performance was the warehouse dance scene.  The iconic scene is ruined slightly in the remake by the choice of music.  In the 1984 version, Bacon vents his anger to “Never” by Moving Pictures.  Wormald, however, dances away his anger to “Catch Hell Blues” by The White Stripes.  While the tune by The White Stripes is definitely great venting music, it doesn’t really fit the dance moves Wormald copies from Bacon.

Hough is likeable as Ariel and she plays the wild child character well, especially opposite Quaid as her serious preacher father. A real standout however is Teller as Willard. He truly captures the innocence and naiveté of Willard and steals scenes with his comic lines. It’s hard to not leave the movie theater a little bit in love with either Ren or Willard.

“Footloose” is worth the trip to the movies and a relaxing night out with friends or a date. The dance scenes make you want to get up and bust a move in the aisles or find the nearest country western bar. So don’t wait, cut loose a little for this remake.