Yes it’s another remake. Yes the story is essentially the same. And yes, it is just as much fun – if not more- as the 1984 original.
Footloose is a party that you do not want to end. Showcased in a high school setting in a small Texas town; a ban on public dancing is instituted after a tragic accident claims the lives of high school seniors who were drinking at one of these dance parties just prior. Led by Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid), town officials enforce an early curfew and monitor under-age drinking like no tomorrow. The reason the dancing is taken out of the equations is because they all believe that this form of expression is the gateway to the aforementioned acts of drugs & alcohol that contributed to the said tragedy three years ago.
Enter in Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) from Boston, Massachusetts; who after the death of his mother, comes down to live with his uncle (Ray McKinnon) and his family for his final year of high school. Ren’s northeast cache sticks out in the quaint town of Bomont, TX; and the locals want to make sure he gets the message on how things run around here within days of his arrival; specifically, no dancing and no loud music.
Well obviously Ren isn’t conforming to that, which leads to a few run-ins with the law and the local boys (led by Patrick John Flueger). While struggling to adjust to the Bomont way of life, he sets his sights on Rev. Moore’s rebellious daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough). Ariel feels trapped in this town and eventually warms-up to Ren’s city boy style. He also bonds with fellow classmates, Willard (Miles Teller) & Woody (Ser’Darius Blain) as they all start to challenge Bomont’s rules & regulations with regards to the no dancing policy.
Although this is a dance film, there are plenty of high school shenanigans that may be found in any coming-of-age flick. Following around Ren, Willard and Woody as they go through the daily high school grind provides a plethora of witty moments in the dialogue. Whether its sneaking around to a local burger joint who support public dancing, or seeing Ren work with the bold yet socially introverted Willard in teaching him to dance, all provide laugh-out-loud moments. Credit some of that response to the crisp editing and cutting from scene-to-scene. And when you’re not laughing, chances are you’ll be sitting there with a smile on your face during the energetic dance segments; where the soundtrack forces one to get in the spirit of the projected tone.
The only real difference from the original is the story has a little more grit to it and the movie mechanics – mainly the cinematography – has vastly improved. Even though this comes across as a giant party, the script takes some time to focus on the relationships that need mending and/or that are being formed. It’s not going to make you ponder for days but at least you have some mental stimulation going on in-concert with the physical attractions. And that includes being fixated on Julianne Moore (and it’s not a coincidence that her dialogue is limited to a few sentences here-and-there for most of this haha.).
Acting as whole is solid by all parties. There are enough diverse characters that are memorable and serve a purpose rather than a bunch of time-fillers. Kenny Wormald is surprisingly able to carry this piece all the way through as well. Though some of his solo dance moves are cheesy – and indirectly provide comedy – the guy is up to the challenge and delivers. For a generation that has been slammed with products such as the Step Up franchise and So You Think You Can Dance?; a stigma of what this particular film will be like with either detract or attract possible audiences. The difference here is there are characters with substance and the performers know what they’re doing and have a range, rather than just going through the motions until the next dance segment. When the tempo needs to pick up… it does. When there has to be less show…someone steps in with a thought. It’s almost like the ideal friendship where you want to have fun with a person yet also take time to break down where you are in life with a gentle ear.
Overall, Footloose is an adrenaline high of pure fun that you never want to come down from. The dancing sequences find the correct pitch to please all viewers whether they’re fans of that element or not. Go have some laughs with this sharp-crafted
RATING: 4 out of 5