This is a remake in every sense of the word and is, in many ways, a perfect homage to the original. Hotly anticipated since the rumour mill started about 3 years ago, Footloose is finally hitting cinema screens. This isn’t a new invention, this isn’t even a new take, it is pure and simply 1984 brought to 2011 Bomont.
Footloose tells the story of city kid Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) who, after his mother dies from Leukaemia, is sent to live with her brother and his family in the quiet red neck town of Bomont. Bomont is run by its elders and the Church and, since a tragic accident involving five of its teenagers three years previously, it has gone a tad crazy on the law. No public dancing is allowed, whilst playing loud music is prohibited and a curfew is enforced on its teenagers. Ren loves nothing more than dancing and having a good time so when he arrives he ruffles a few feathers and soon grabs the attention of resident wild child, Ariel (Julianne Hough), who also happens to be preacher Rev Moore (Dennis Quaid)’s daughter.
The story has always been a simple one, but something that everyone can connect to whether you’re the teenagers who love to go out and dance or the parents who remember what their young days were like but now worry for the safety of their children. It has spoken to many a generation. Craig Brewer, who directs the 2011 film, wisely keeps it 98% like the original film. The 1984 original has a legion of fans and made a heart-throb out of its main star Kevin Bacon, who wowed audiences with his dance moves. The worse thing that could have happened here is if they kept the core plot about teens not being allowed to dance but changed the characters and the essence of the film. Fans won’t be disappointed – this film is a fun thrill ride down memory lane.
The script is an exact replica, with only a few lines spoken by different characters here and there. Ren’s back story has also changed slightly, as his mother is now deceased when he is introduced. There are great scenes where fans will recognise the car, the costumes and some of the original soundtrack, some have been given a more modern mix too. The opening credits are even in the same font and the famous shoes dancing at the beginning are also given a fantastic modernisation but one that lets audiences know this is Footloose they’re watching.
Kenny Wormald as Ren is a good casting choice. There had been previous young actors tied to this project including Zac Efron and Chase Crawford, but this is definitely a role for Wormald. Like his predecessor Bacon, he has the charisma, the edge and the right look for Ren, not too obviously good looking but he holds that ‘something about him’ appeal, which is what won Bacon so many fans. His dancing is great, but once again, like Bacon, you don’t feel it screams professional hired to act. Julianne Hough is a professional having first been seen on Dancing with the Stars and has now made a move into dance films. She does a worthy Ariel, if not looking a little too old for the part. One of the real stars of the film is Milles Teller, who plays the boy who can’t dance, Willard. He has fantastic comic timing and a lovable nature, similar to Chris Penn. He carries the best one liner’s in the film.
Footloose has always been about fun, dancing and love and this film is no different. It won’t disappoint the huge fans and it won’t offend anyone new, if anything it will make a new legion of fans. So all together now, ‘Everybody Cut, Everybody Cut’.
Best scenes: Ren teaching Willard to dance and the visit to the city bar – cowboy dancing!
Best performances: Kenny Wormald and Milles Teller.
Best line: Willard – ‘Yeah Man. We got laws up the poop shoot here’.
Watch this if you liked: Dirty Dancing, Step Up.
Julianne Hough’s brother, Derek Hough, played Ren in the stage adaptation of Footloose.