If this sounds like the backstory of the 1984 movie “Footloose,” it is. Thankfully, it is also the back story of the 2011 remake.
For those who haven’t seen the original and have no idea what the basic plot is, here’s the lowdown on the 2011 version: big city kid Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald, “Center Stage: Turn It Up”) moves to live with his aunt and uncle in the small town of Bomont, GA after his mother dies of leukemia. He learns that teens are prohibited from dancing and, with the help of a few friends and hottie Ariel Moore (Julianne Hough, “Burlesque”), the daughter of the reverend who pushed for the ban in the first place (Dennis Quaid, “Soul Surfer”), rebels and tries to revoke the ban in time for a senior dance.
The “Footloose” remake does a good job of minimizing certain changes while playing up others. One change I completely support is the updated dance style. It is very reminiscent of the “Step Up” movies which, while lacking ‘80s charm, is impressive in quality and great dance eye candy. This revamped dance style may not bring in new viewers, but it definitely helps keep them interested. Die hard fans of the original may, unfortunately be turned off by this glaring change.
One change that was completely pointless is the bus scene. The bus scene (two old buses painted up and raced by Ren and Ariel’s boyfriend at the time,) was originally a game of chicken on tractors. Now, call me out on this one if I’m wrong, but isn’t it more believable for a couple of high school boys in Georgia to play chicken with tractors, than two high school boys trying to demolish one another with old school buses that have been painted up ridiculously? The change was ridiculous.
Another vexing point to the remake is the lack of acting. Wormald is a professional dancer, not an actor. He’s great to look at, but he looks almost unsure of himself during the movie, even when he’s supposed to be cool and collected. His acting was often a little over the top, but at least the boy can dance.
Hough, like Wormald, is a professional dancer who has been in a few movies that showcase her dancing, and her acting reflects her lack of training in this field. I feel that she tried to stray too much from the original character; Ariel is a fun, beautiful and rebellious girl. Hough’s portrayal of her gives her a sultry and angsty vibe that was never in the original. Ariel, as a character, doesn’t need to be overly sexy; her free and beautiful personality is supposed to be what attracts Ren (and the audience), not her overly flirtatious advances, “come hither” facial expressions and husky voice.
So, while the movie is virtually the same as far as plot is concerned, the dancing is (wonderfully) upgraded, but acting talent was sorely sacrificed in the process. Don’t bother seeing this one in theaters; the big screen will only make it worse.