Footloose: Not as Terrible as It Should Be

Starring dancer Kenny Wormald and directed by Craig Brewer, Footloose is an extraordinarily faithful remake, recycling four songs from Herbert Ross' 1984 Footloose, plus plot, characters, and iconography. (The main dude rocks skinny ties and drives Kevin Bacon's yellow Beetle.) A smart-aleck city teen (Wormald) moves to a tiny rural town where dancing has been banned, falls for the defiant daughter (Julianne Hough) of a local preacher/city council member (Dennis Quaid), and ultimately pushes the town's moral needle by using Bible verses to recast his bumping and grinding as a holy act. For all of Brewer's self-conscious copying (most jaw-droppingly, he recreates nearly shot-for-shot the centerpiece of Ross' film, the tour-de-force explosion of teen rage set in an empty warehouse, in which Ren fights back against his daily humiliations via gymnastic solo dance), Brewer does subtly adjust for the full generation gap between films. Footloose seems most to want to be a mother/daughter girls' night out, with Gen-X moms crossing fingers in the hope that their tween offspring will be receptive to the movie's lessons about dating studious, drug-free gymnasts over stoned, sleazy older dudes. But Footloose comes alive when Brewer (Hustle & Flow) plays to his strengths, during an illicit dance-off at a drive-in or when a line dance devolves into sweaty gyrations—basically, when the teenagers are fulfilling the grown-ups' worst fears.

 
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