Ren (Kenny Wormald) is a big city kid forced by circumstance to move to the small town of Bomont, Ga., where dancing is outlawed. Ren, a former gymnast and dancing fool, challenges the law, butts heads with the local preacher (Dennis Quaid) and falls in love with the minister’s daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough). Will the town lift the ban? Will the love birds ever get to break dance in public?
Richard: Mark, Footloose is grittier than you would imagine a movie starring Ryan Seacrest’s girlfriend to be. The slickness normally associated with contemporary teen fare is mostly missing here, replaced with the steamy Southern feel that permeates director Craig Brewer’s other films. You won’t hear a line like, “You’re sexier than socks on a rooster,” in any of the Twilight movies.
Mark: Yes, Richard, the best thing about the movie is its authentic country-fried details. It doesn’t condescend to its blue collar characters and that’s to its credit. I thought the original was dated way back in the ’80s. Now, in an Internet world, the town that banned dancing would have been ridiculed all over America and the American Civil Liberties Union would have filed suit immediately. And why did the town ban teen dancing when the real problem was teen drinking?
RC: Because then the movie would have to have been called Intervention, and that’s a whole different story! Rebooting a well-loved classic is a tricky business. There are slight changes, Ren is now from Boston instead of Chicago, the tractor game of chicken from the original is now a bus race and the dancing has been updated but the upbeat rebellious core (and most of the songs) of the ’84 movie is intact.
MB: Speaking of dancing, I wish there had been more of it. The first dance scene in the parking lot had nice energy, Kenny Wormald’s solo when he dances off his anger in the warehouse was riveting, but then it takes a long time to get to the big finale, which I thought was a dud. The movie should have gone craaaaaaazzzzzy at that point, but everyone, including the choreographer, was on their best behaviour. And what did you think of the acting?
RC: I thought Wormald and Hough shone the brightest when they are in motion on the dance floor-— which isn’t often enough — but Miles Teller as Willard (played by Chris Penn in the original), Ren’s dance-challenged best friend steals the show on and off the dance floor.
MB: You could not be more right. Teller has the looks and presence of a young John Cusack. And only Dennis Quaid could take the thankless preacher role and imbue it with a sense of humanity. But in the end, it’s still a cheesy flick, even if this remake takes it from mild to medium cheddar.