Ok, so I was dragged to the theatre, kicking and screaming in protest against this remake of 1984’s seminal hit Footloose. I wanted none of it. The trailer was downright offensive to me and I just didn’t want to bother. My wife begged, so I relented. I’ve put her through worse, so I broke down and went.
Based off of the original 80’s hit film starring Kevin Bacon, the plot is basically the same. Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald), a street smart teenager from Boston moves to rural Bomont, Georgia to live with his Uncle after his mother’s death. After the tragic deaths of four teenagers 3 years prior, the city council passed a series of laws banning public dancing, loud music, and basically everything else deemed ‘fun’ for teenagers. On his first day of school Ren is immediately befriended by Willard (Miles Teller), a goofy but likable good ol’ boy. In another stroke of good fortune, Ren also catches the eye of Ariel (Julianne Hough), the smokin’ hot dancing fiend daughter of the local Presbyterian preacher (Dennis Quaid).
As Ren ruffles the feathers of most of the elders in town with his loud music and defiant spirit, he’s immediately deemed a threat to their clean country living. As the town’s civil leaders attempt to squash the growing demand for public dancing led by Ren’s efforts, Ren must also deal with Ariel’s jealous redneck truck racing boyfriend.
Given all my negative preconceptions with what I thought was an unnecessary makeover, I ended up having a lot of fun watching this film. While this story will perpetually appeal to teenagers, it is presented with a likable charm and tasteful appeal to most audiences. Ren’s freakout solo dance in the warehouse was exquisitely soundtracked by The White Stripes’ “Catch Hell Blues” and a few nods to the 80’s had me singing “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” all the way home. While Lenny Wormald doesn’t quite come close to meeting the magic of Kevin Bacon’s original portrayal, the film is an acceptable and sufficient re-make which is much more than I can say for most of Hollywood’s recent efforts. As for Julianne Hough… her performance was better than Blake Shelton’s take on the title track, for whatever that’s worth.
3 stars out of 5…but I still refuse to have anything to do with the Dirty Dancing remake.