Footloose (2011) Review
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In 1984, a young Kevin Bacon became the voice of dancing teenagers everywhere as he cut loose to a now-classic Kenny Loggins tune. Twenty-five years later, it seemed that singing, dancing heartthrob Zac Efron would follow in his dance steps in a Footloose remake—with his High School Musical director, Kenny Ortega, helming the project. But, a couple of years (and a couple of cast and crew shake-ups) later, all remnants of High School Musical have been removed—and the result is a surprisingly passable musical remake.

Three years ago, a car accident claimed the lives of five teenagers from the small town of Bomont. In response, one of the grieving parents, the town’s pastor, Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid), pushed a number of new laws through the city council, forcing a curfew on minors and prohibiting unsupervised dancing.

  
 
Now, after his mother’s death, Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) arrives from Boston to live with his aunt (Kim Dickens) and uncle (Ray McKinnon). Frustrated by the town’s strict rules, Ren is relieved to find that the kids in Bomont still dance; they just have to do it when the cops aren’t looking. But, with the help of a few new friends and Rev. Moore’s rebellious daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough), Ren decides to fight for change.

As far as remakes go, Footloose is definitely better than average. It does the original film justice (especially when you consider that the original isn’t really the brilliant film that ‘80s nostalgia may suggest), paying homage to the characters, the classic scenes, and the memorable soundtrack.

Since dance movies are hot right now, the film is also loaded with dance scenes—in every kind of style imaginable, from street dancing to country line dancing. The choreography is pretty impressive—and, with pros like Hough (of Dancing with the Stars) and Wormald (a dance movie veteran) in the lead roles, it looks effortless.

If you’re not big into dance movies, though, you’ll be pleased to find out that Footloose is (a little bit) more than just Step Up 4 Rednecks. There’s actually a story, too. And while it may be loaded with cheesy clichés, ridiculous redneck stereotypes, and some truly irritating characters, it provides a good foundation for all that dancin’.

Meanwhile, despite all of the casting (and director) shuffling, the pieces come together surprisingly well. Hough and Wormald may not be destined for Hollywood’s A-list, but Hough is cute, and Wormald brings an irresistible pairing of smirk and swagger. Still, Miles Teller steals the show as Ren’s lovably dim, camo-clad pal, Willard.

Of course, you shouldn’t expect to see Footloose or its young cast members on your Oscar ballot next February. It has all the clichés and awkward performances of any other cheesy teen/dance movie. But if you’re feeling especially nostalgic (or you’re a teenage girl), it’s not a bad pick.


DVD Review:
The new Footloose may be all about dancing and teen drama, but the special features on the film’s DVD are more for the grown-ups. The release isn’t loaded with extras, but it does feature a music video for Big & Rich’s catchy “Fake ID,” along with three deleted scenes (with optional director commentary), which show additional scenes from the adult characters’ perspective.

The disc also includes a commentary track with director Craig Brewer. As Brewer explains at the beginning, director commentaries were his version of film school, back in the days when he was working at Barnes & Noble and waiting for his career to kick off—so he goes out of his way to fill the feature with tips and stories and lessons learned. In his open and informative commentary, he discusses everything from filmmaking techniques to his obvious respect and appreciation for the original Footloose. Listening to it is sure to give you a new appreciation for both the film and Brewer’s thoughtful filmmaking.

While the Footloose DVD release isn’t chock-full of extras, the special features menu is still worth a look—especially for grown-up fans of the original.

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