All the right moves
Reinforcing the concept of living an unbridled life to the fullest, 27 years after the original launched Kevin Bacon as a teen icon, the foot-tapping classic Footloose dances its way into a new generation of hearts.
After his mother's passing due to cancer, teenager Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) is transplanted from big city Boston to the tiny bible-belt town of Bomont, Georgia to live with his Uncle Wes (Ray McKinnon) and family.
A drastic southern culture shock, the former gymnast and avid dancer is astounded by Bomont's arcane laws brought in three years earlier when the small community was rocked by a tragically fatal accent and the death of five teenagers after a night on the town.
The local councilmen influenced by their beloved spiritual leader who's son was in the accident, Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) responded by implementing ordinances that abolished all public dancing and loud music, and imposed curfews for all teenagers.
With his eyes on the town's teens, his unruly Ariel (Julianne Hough) is determined to make others forget she's the overbearing preacher's daughter by shamelessly flaunting herself to rough race car driver Chuck Cranston (Patrick John Flueger).
Ren's presence shakes local resolve and becomes an easy target. Reprimanded for music, his attitude and drugs, the rebellious attraction to the wild Ariel is instant. Not one to yield to the status quo, the tenacious Ren will bring some life back to this constantly-mourning town. Challenging the ban, the town and Reverent Shaw, there was a time for the town's strict laws but now it's his time to Dance.
Determined to invoke the same passion that made the original so memorable, Director Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow) saw no need in reinventing the wheel. Tweaking the storylines, updating pop-culture references and reworking some of the more memorable tunes, he was able to stick to the core of what made the first film fun (including the clothes in a wonderfully retro look).
Electrically littered with musical sequences, the originals seamless transitions from heavy metal to Memphis blues and country is a little lost under a modern krump-like vibrant choreography. Highly evident during the infamous 'angry dance' where the music, emotion and dancing just don't match.
Fighting tooth and nail not to compare, in regards to the acting and portrayal of some characters it is warranted. Wormald is decent in his own right, but lacks the cheekiness of Bacon; Hough doesn't have the conviction of Lori Singer's Ariel, pushing the character rather than being her; Quaid is stiff, unsatisfactorily missing John Lithgow's mark as a caring self righteous protector and coming across as sanctimonious.
That said, newcomer Miles Teller replacing Chris Penn as Ren's best friend Willard is wonderful. Delivering the same well timed the comic relief and genuine feel of "I can't dance" lack of coordination to the role. Andie MacDowell stands in for Dianne West as Vi Moore and Ray McKinnon gets a meatier version of Uncle Wes. There are also some modern political corrections that feel affected.
The Verdict: Not as impassioned; the sweet parable about parents slowly letting go of their hold on their children is timeless and doesn't feel out of place. It doesn't desecrate the originals memory but it doesn't have the subtle natural flow that made it work either.