“I've been working so hard. I'm punching my card.”
“I've been working so hard. I'm punching my card.” Kenny Loggins sang this in the original 1984 film, Footloose and the lyrics are just as timely today. Maybe even more so. We are all still busy and with the pressures of work and life we need a chance to just dance! Or in my case, watch a movie about people dancing. The new, updated, Footloose cuts a rug in to theaters and brings with it a lot of the original.
Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) is a Boston teen who has to move to a small Georgia town to live with his Aunt and Uncle after the death of his mother. He soon discovers that the teenagers of the area are under some very strict rules and restrictions; instigated mainly by Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid). Three years early the town was thrown into shock with the tragic death of 5 teenagers. It is a town that means well but has gone to extremes to keep their young people safe. Ren decides to shake up the place especially when it comes to the no dancing rule.
The new installment follows the original almost scene for scene. The dance numbers have been modernized to fit more of what the teens and college kids are bringing to the dance floor and of course the iPod was something of science fiction in the mid 80’s. But even as modern as writer Dean Pitchford and director Craig Brewer made this one to be it still kept the main thing the main thing. It is about teenagers wanting to be teenagers. It is the right to live and enjoy your freedom before the pressure of work and family threaten to steal it. Some call it rebellion but I think of it more as a joyous rite of passage.
The big question is, how does Wormald line up with the original star, Kevin Bacon? Kenny looks more like James Dean and very young Johnny Depp. Maybe he doesn’t quite have the moves of Bacon but I think for this new version he fits nicely. Quaid is perfect as the small town preacher trying to raise his daughter in a safe, conservative environment. He is passionate about his beliefs but you can also see the turmoil on his face as he struggles with the decisions he has made. Julianne Hough plays his daughter Ariel, who has also caught the eye of Ren. Hough does ok in the role and if anything I think the writers are to blame for any flaws in her characters over the top dynamics. Two stand-out performances worth mentioning are Ray McKinnon as Ren’s uncle and Miles Teller as a local teen.
The dance numbers in this one are powerful and well-choreographed. Pretty much every style is represented and for a movie about dancing there is a large dose of it without it ever stealing the film. FOOTLOOSE is rated PG-13 for some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence and language. Many will find this more suited for the 16 and up crowd. The expletives are common place throughout but all are of the mild variety. The sexual content contains no nudity but is still certainly a bit much for younger teens. Before you scoff at that remember you have probably been watching the TV version of the original and have forgotten the language of the 80s films. I am not sure if teens today will find the dancing and the message as fun and exciting as people did in the 80’s or if it will be tossed in the bin with all the other dance movies of this era. There is something special about this story though and it has many heartfelt moments. Though created for older teens it might very well be the middle aged group that likes it the most. Even the modern version has a hint of nostalgia. I give it 3.75 out of 5 back flips. If this generation needed a Footloose, I think this one hits the mark square on.
Review copyright 2011 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.