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REVIEW: "Footloose" The Remake Lacks The Magic Of The Original

Becca Marshall |
October 5, 2011 | 2:22 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

"Footloose" comes out Oct. 14 (Paramount Pictures)
"Footloose" comes out Oct. 14 (Paramount Pictures)
"Footloose" the remake: an entertaining movie, but you probably won't show it to your kids someday.

At the Wednesday night premiere, the crowds were on their feet. It was a sea of neon windbreakers and side pony-tails dancing and singing along with Ren and Ariel to the title track, “Footloose.” 

I suspect this show of enthusiasm had something to do with the nature of the rowdy primarily college-aged crowd and not as much to do with the movie’s wild success. Not to say that the movie is a flop, but "Footloose" is entertaining at best. 

The film is a modern translation of the impassioned, rebellious 80s classic. The story line is nearly identical: A city boy comes to live in a small rural town where dancing and many other basic rights have been forbidden. Against a backdrop of strict Protestant tradition, the youth rebels and throws a high school Prom. 

Writer Dean Pitchford, who worked on the screen play for the original movie, ensured that the remake was true to form. Pitchford’s co-writer and the film’s director Craig Brewer got a few things right. Ariel and Ren’s romance is charming, albeit unconvincing, and the street dancing is truly inspired. In fact, the film could have shown off their talent with more fantastic dance scenes. Ren’s dance style is a unique blend of gymnastics and street style and the extras display an amazing show of tricks including crumping and acrobatics. 

Two key ingredients are missing in this remake: the 80s and Kevin Bacon. "Footloose" is tied to the 80s, and to its music. That’s why this remake doesn’t make sense; It’s missing the heart of "Footloose." The magic of "Footloose" was Kenny Loggins, John Mellencamp, and Foreigner. It felt strange listening to an acoustic “Holding Out for a Hero” and a countrified “Footloose” by Blake Shelton. Personal taste aside, the music fell flat, as did the romance between Ren and Ariel. Kevin Bacon exuded an effortless cool and a sex appeal in the original film. His romance with the preacher’s daughter is believable. Not so with Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough. Though there are charming scenes between the two, I don’t buy their romance. I don’t want to watch them the way I wanted more of Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer as Ren and Ariel.  

At the end of the premiere, director Craig Brewer said, “We came at this movie with love in our hearts. It’s not a cash grab. We have true love for the original,” Brewer said. 

The crew’s intentions are evident. Brewer made it clear that he didn’t want to replace the original, but to supplement it with the new generation’s take on the film. Indeed, Footloose is a good attempt at the modernization of the classic, it just won’t become a classic in it’s own right. The magic of the original is missing. It’s entertaining and it will thrill younger audiences, but I won’t be showing Footloose the remake to my children someday.  

Reach reporter Becca Marshall here

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