Another year, another remake of an 80's song and dance movie. Along with the fright flicks from the same generation, these toe-tappers are proud (or shamed, depending on your view) members of the, 'most likely to be remade,' genre, re-dos of Fame and Hairspray both happening within the last several years. Most people who have seen the Fame do-over will tell you that there's no call for making these things. Anyone who has seen Hairspray would beg to differ. That's why we watch the movies; because sometimes, even the Ones you doubt turn out to be winners. I entered my showing of Footloose with just such a hope.
Relative unknown Kenny Wormald steps in for Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormick, a rough-and-tumble youngster who has just been shipped from big-city Boston to a crumby old southern town named Bomont. Three years before his arrival, the people of Bomont experienced a tragedy: Driving home drunk from a party, Five teenagers got in a car accident and lost their lives, prompting the town to pass a law against every fun and youthful thing that you can think of, most especially that damned dancing! Well, Ren doesn't want anything to do with this, and after a couple of run-ins with the law for such devious activities as playing his music too loud, the rebellious youngster decides to start a petition to have the law against under-aged dancing over-turned, winning the scorn of a local preacher (Dennis Quaid) and the affections his in-heat daughter (Julianne Hough) in the process.
The Footloose remake isn't exactly what I would describe as a, 'dirty,' movie, but it is without a doubt much more grimy and interesting than I would have expected. Dirt and sweat are littered all over the screen, Amy Vincent's work behind the camera lending the film a tone that is at once real and boisterous, as full of life as it is of grim. Its a vision of the South, scuzzy and vivacious, pulsating with both inter-racial bonding and segregation, that director Craig Brewer has brought to both of his most recent films, Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan, and he fits it into the flick's PG-13 canvas with surprising ease. The acting is fine, chemistry between thespians and Brewer's keen sense of interplay creating the movie's most believable moments, Wormald proving just good enough to hold the movie together, though I wouldn't expect too many more starring roles to be coming his way.
The dance scenes also prove exciting and mirthful, though noticeably too infrequent, as Wormald spends only a small fraction of his screen time doing what he was clearly brought in to do (Boy can dance). Truth be told, with its insufficient stock of body-moving footage, and premise that is simply too out-dated to be taken seriously, it's a marvel that I liked Footloose as much as I did, but I kind of dug it a lot. Chalk it up to Brewer's gift for ambience and his keen ability for composing and filming basic human interactions. Footloose didn't exactly open my eyes to any new truths about the universe, and it's a far cry from the remake-revelation that was Hairspray, but it's a pretty damn fun Friday night at the flicks, and that counts for a lot in my book.