Footloose review by Melissa Orcine - Cinema Paradiso
1984 was the year when the original ‘Footloose’ was released and Kevin Bacon became a star. In it Ren (Bacon) is a newcomer to the small town of Beaumont, which has a peculiar law – it has completely banned dancing of any kind among its youth. The 2011 remake ‘Footloose’ is faithfully based on the first movie, this time it has Kenny Wormald in the iconic Bacon role.
‘Footloose’ does not stray from its 1984 counterpart: same story, same characters, all but different and younger actors, and a much more racially diverse cast (in fact, Southern blacks and whites actually interact with each other here.) At the helm is co-writer/director Craig Brewer, a film maker known for his gritty films ‘Hustle and Flow’ and ‘Black Snake Moan’. Here, Brewer captures the South’s iron-clad conservatism and dictatorship, and yet, film does not exactly incite violent reactions from its audience.
Yes, it’s an abomination to have anyone ban dancing – it’s a human right, a form of expression that cannot be denied – Brewer’s treatment of it, however, still ends up very ‘High School Musical’. Not that that Kevin Bacon’s version is such a serious movie, anyway; but as a remake, it should have gone up a notch.
Given that ‘Footloose’ is a musical it cannot be avoided to be dubbed as silly, popcorn, or contrived. Most musicals get no respect for suddenly breaking out into song or dancing up a storm on the sidewalk. It’s indeed ridiculous; but if executed well, could be taken seriously. Granted that film now showcases a bunch of talented newbies from Kenny Wormald and country singer and ‘Dancing With the Stars’ dancer Julianne Hough, and yet their version comes off as robotic and soulless. Sure, the choreography is good, but the framing of the dance sequences are useless to say the least. You don’t do close-ups on feet and faces during a dance-off!
2011’s version succeeds to make money from another generation and it’s not even worth it. Here was the new production’s chance to improve or tweak it to no avail. You should watch Kevin Bacon’s original instead.