Aisle Seat: The kids still wanna cut loose

Footloose: Four stars out of 5. Jason Armstrong review.

  • Oct. 23, 2011 5:00 p.m.
The Footloose remake

The Footloose remake

Legend has it, director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) wanted to be a filmmaker the moment he first saw 1984’s Footloose.

So passionate was he about the ‘80s dance-a-thon starring Kevin Bacon, that he recorded the whole movie on a cassette tape and listened to it while walking.

That’s being in love with your material. And that’s one of the reasons Brewer’s Footloose remake works so beautifully – it’s fresh, but it has such an underlying determination to be faithful to its source, that it overflows on charm and zeal.

Now, is this re-furbished Footloose perfect? Nope. But then, neither was the late Herbert Ross’ original. It high-stepped through a fountain of cheese to tell its tale.

Yet, there’s a reason the rebellious kids-just-wanna-have-fun musical helped define an entire generation. It, probably more than any other film during the ‘80s, was completely bent on having fun. And here, the tradition continues.

Kenny Wormald takes the lead role as Ren McCormack, the Boston teen who moves to a small southern town and ultimately protests against the law prohibiting dancing.

As an actor, Wormald is an awfully good dancer, yet, despite being a little stiff in the thespian department (he doesn’t carry near the teen angst that Bacon did long ago), he’s a likeable guy and, again, man, can the guy dance.

Ditto for Julianne Hough, who plays Ariel, the preacher’s daughter.

Known primarily for her stint on Dancing With The Stars, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out what Hough brings to the table for this project.  Still, with a sparkle in her eye, she’s not exactly helpless in the acting department either.

Dennis Quaid, playing the town’s minister, does for Footloose much what he did for Soul Surfer; his presence alone elevates the quality of every scene he’s a part of.

Still, the real strength of Footloose is in the already established blueprint, and Brewer knows it.

While he updates some aspects for 2011 (the game of chicken on tractors is transformed into a school bus race), a lot of his picture is a shot-for-shot remake, and I doubt anyone will have a problem with that. I don’t.

The feature is currently playing at Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

–– Jason Armstrong is the longtime film reviewer at The Morning Star.