Yes, the original film was like a lot of 80s movies--campy, silly and sometimes just about the music—but this remake should have been forgotten. While the writers kept quite a few original lines and the director kept some iconic scenes, something was lost in translation. That loss cannot be blamed on any one part of the film but rather the disgraceful whole.
There some changes that I enjoyed. The opening scene, though storyline changed a bit, had more of an impact behind the impetus of the town's laws. The dancing was top notch by today's standards though a little raunchy a time or two. Kenny Wormald did justice to Kevin Bacon's dance in the warehouse, changing it just enough to make it his own. Julianna Hough kept up with him every step of the way during the dance scenes. Even the at the end, it was refreshing in this day of girl-power to see the football team told by a teammate to "man-up" and ask the girls to dance.
That said, the rest of the film is an empty cardboard parody, lacking any sense of poignancy that endeared the original to a generation. The soundtrack fell below the standard set in 1984, though they sort of kept Whitney Houston's original "Let's Hear it for the Boy" when Willard learns to dance (a highlight in both films). Also, they changed Beamis Mill (which I believe dealt with concrete) to a cotton gin mill, very poor taste.
The characters are hollow and thanks to the deletion of several key scenes, the actors are not given a chance to redeem themselves and give us characters we can empathize with.
Kenny Wormald was a great choice for the dancing scenes. It's impeccable and when when he dances you can feel his passion come through the screen. His acting, however, was limited to cockiness and poker face. Kenny seemed to struggle to find the balance in that sweet spot between underacting and overacting. Two scenes that clearly show this is when his aunt asked him why the dance was important and when he stands before the town counsel. Both times lack passion, conviction and inflection. He could very well have been reading the nutrition panel on the side of a bag of bread. The closest I came to identifying with him was when his Uncle talked about him taking care of his mom. Kenny could not seem to remember he was supposed to be a rebel with a cause and not just another rebellious teenager.
Julianna Hough is gorgeous and confident. Confidence like hers can hinder a performance when you are supposed to be playing a wild child who is acting out because of insecurity. I am trying to give her the benefit of the doubt as key scenes were not in the film that would have brought depth to her character. You miss out on the deep reasons behind the hurt and vulnerability that Lori Singer pulled off wonderfully. For example, the scene about types of music in the original between Ariel and Shaw went a long way to deepen the dynamics of father-daughter relationship, and helped build each character's journey in the minds and hearts of the audience. Or the scene with the music box, showed the vulnerability of Ariel as she shared who she really is with Ren, brave and yet fearful of rejection for her real self. Those scenes might have saved Hough's performance. Instead, her version of Ariel came across as an angry brat who looked good dancing.
Dennis Quaid looked ill-at-ease throughout the entire movie, and even when he's angry he looks like he might lose his breakfast. Again, I am trying to give his performance the benefit of the doubt as they cut several key character-development scenes which would have shown how he grew throughout the course of the film. For example, the book-burning scene in the original is a major turning point for this character. John Lithgow's heart (original) could be seen in that scene when he sees what he's done. It's a point of no return when he had to really think about what he'd done and why and how he will proceed. Had they kept that scene, he would have reason, he would have believability. Now, instead, Shaw comes across as another fumbling close-minded dad/leader who had no clue about real life until his wife and daughter school him, along with a very brief talk with Ren.
Andie MacDowell didn't have much chance with the majority of Vi's scenes cut. That said, had been included them it would not have mattered. Only once during this film did she remind me of the quiet strength and dignity that Dianne Wiest brought to the role (town meeting). Her few scenes with Dennis Quaid are almost belittling and instead of the gentle correction of Vi quietly convicting Shaw Andie's Vi seemed to constantly condemn him.
Miles Teller as Willard is probably the most enjoyable of the entire cast. I know some out there have decried his performance, but I think he took the role and made it his own while retaining the child-like naiveté that was Willard. He was a little on the over-sexed teen side of things in this film (which got old), but otherwise, he was fun to watch.
The flaws are many in this film. I would give this film 2 out of 5 stars simply for the dancing, The tag line is "Cut Loose" and they stripped away any of the sentimentality that would have made this a fun film to watch over and over again.
They removed what made Footloose so foot loose. They simply cut too loose.
Action / Comedy / Drama / Music / Romance
Action / Comedy / Drama / Music / Romance
Being a teenager is tough, and no one knows this better than Ren McCormack, a city kid with a strong feeling for music. Ren's life changes when he moves to a small town where rock-n-roll and dancing are criminal activities. When Ren falls in love with the reverend's daughter, Ariel Moore, the music pauses and Ren needs to shape up or make dancing a legal activity once again.
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February 07, 2012 at 07:46 PM