Sunday, 16 October 2011

Footloose - review

Remakes are a tricky subject.  Their announcements are normally met with screams of "WHY?!" from the die hard fans and the results can range from surprisingly good (The Departed, Ocean's Eleven, Dawn Of The Dead, The Ring), perfectly adequate (Let Me In, The Karate Kid), unintentionally hilarious (The Wicker Man), to downright awful (Psycho).
In an attempt to capitalise on the Hollywood trend for remaking 80's movies and the dance movie craze, a remake of Footloose was greenlit, but its journey to the big screen was filled with more wrong steps than an Anne Widdecome routine on Strictly Come Dancing.  Various delays, the loss of first choice director Kenny Ortega and lead Zac Efron and uninspiring footage at Empire Big Screen that could have come from any Step Up film and I was more than ready to stick a size 7 cuban heel into the final product.
One of the first popular films in the modern dance genre was You Got Served, and it is fair to say that Footloose served me up a huge slice of humble pie because it is actually a surprisingly good and incredibly enjoyable film.  The troubled remake was "Holding Out For A Hero" and they got two in the form of director Craig Brewer and Kevin Bacon replacement Kenny Wormald, "Let's hear it for the boys!".
It is always a risk when remaking a film to stick so close to the original source material, but Brewer is skilled and respectful enough to know what works but put his own spin on it.

The film begins with a party where the partygoers (mainly just shots of their shoes a la the original) are dancing around to Kenny Loggins' classic song.  Immediately my foot is tapping away and a smile is creeping across my face.  A group of kids get in their car and are drive home whilst singing along, the song is approaching its climax when BAM, they are hit by a truck!
This accident sets up what still remains Footloose's ridiculous central concept, that a small town bans any form of public dancing by minors.  I still don't know what is more stupid; the ban or the fact that despite a ban on dancing, when they finally do get to dance everyone is seemingly at a world class standard that they can do all sorts of flips and spins, etc!
Cue the arrival of Ren McCormack (Wormald) who is viewed by the small town locals as a rebel, because he wears a tie and sunglasses, and will battle Reverend Moore (Quaid) over the dancing ban and his daughter Ariel.  Wormald might not have the depth of Bacon (even he couldn't make the punch dance scene seem serious), but he has the appropriate level of cockiness and swagger to pull off the role and is very competent at the dancing.
You can argue that statement can also be used to describe the entire film.  It is certainly not a deep, meaningful film but it never claims to be.  It just wants to have fun and has it in spades.  Backed up with solid performances (top marks to Miles Teller as the "can't dance, won't dance" Willard), loving references to the original (VW Beetle, burgundy tuxedo jacket, etc), and terrific, energetic dance routines, Footloose is a perfect film to kick off your Sunday shoes at.

3.5 stars

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