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Footloose (2011)

by

Jeff Nelson

Footloose (2011) isn't as good as the original due to its made-for-TV feel and some changes that simply didn't work out so well, but it could have been much worse.

Footloose (2011)
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In the current world of cinema where remake, prequels, and sequels are much more common than original features, we're bound to come across a "re-imagining" of Footloose. The film certainly made a big enough impact on the entertainment industry to still be receiving references and many connections in movies and TV shows. The original Footloose is highly spoken of by some viewers, but I found it to be a bit underwhelming after hearing all of the buzz. It's one of those movies where you have to switch off your brain and simply enjoy it for what it is. Well, if you were a fan of the 1984 original, then you should have a blast with the remake, I suppose. After all, they do feel like essentially the same movie at times. The major differences are that the songs are by different artists with different tempos and there are some focuses here that weren't present in the original. Since I saw this after the original, I had a good idea of how to approach this one. To try to switch off my brain and take it as it is. However, this becomes a little bit difficult to brush off so much at times. Even with the flaws, is the remake able to modernize the moves that at least entertained audiences?

Dancer and big-city kid, Ren MacCormack, is stuck in a small town where dancing is illegal. As he rebels against the town and its influential Reverend Moore, Ren falls for the pastor's beautiful daughter. While the general story is exactly the same, there are some differences here and there. Thankfully, the filmmakers have modernized quite a bit of it. Everything from the music to the dancing to some of the characters' personalities. One of the very few advantages that the remake has over the original is that the pacing is a bit smoother from start to finish. The biggest issue with the screenplay is that it ultimately feels like a cheap cable movie. The dialogue is completely cliché and there are some 'sentimental' moments where the audience won't be able to help but roll his or her eyes. In the original, the source material for Ren MacCormack's role is a bit underwhelming, but he's still likable enough. Here, it feels like the screenwriter tried way too hard to make us like the character. This is done by bringing in backstory on him before he was placed in this little town regarding some family problems. This felt a bit unnecessary and simply made it feel like I was watching a flick on the Lifetime channel. What remains from the original to the remake is that Reverend Moore remains to have a completely unconvincing change of heart. No human being that's that narrow-minded changes his or her views in a matter of minutes. The transition doesn't feel believable in the slightest. There are surely pros and cons to this script, but the cons outweigh the pros. Big fans of the original probably won't mind the big script issues since the first didn't exactly have a well-crafted screenplay either. The key question here is whether or not the script is successful in modernizing the story and its characters for this generation. In my opinion, it feels very close to the original, but younger audiences who haven't seen the 1984 version should feel that they have received a fair understanding from the remake on its own.

If you read my review for the 1984 version of this movie, then you should know my opinion of the acting. That it's a good cast that was simply not given the correct source material in order to show all of his or her skills. Well, in Footloose (2011), there's even less dialogue. There's more dancing though, so I suppose that's one of the crucial elements to find in a cast. That they can actually dance. In this remake, the cast sure can dance, but there are times where the acting suffers a bit. Kenny Wormald is solid as Ren. He's believable in the character, especially since he isn't a big name in Hollywood. His dancing is spot on and even his dialogue sequences are fine. Julianne Hough plays Ariel, the love-interest. While she fits the look, the director never backed the camera up enough to see her dancing skills. Instead, we see a lot of shots focused on her ass and hips. It's not a bad thing to show off her nice body every once in a while, but the filmmakers are slapping us in the face with it and it makes the dance scenes suffer a bit. It isn't her fault, but she's simply alright in this picture. Dennis Quaid is Reverend Moore. He fits the unlikable role of the overprotective father. As far as the looks and dancing goes, the cast has been picked relatively well.

At the end of the day, nobody is going to remember either of these movies for the screenplays or the acting. it all comes down the music and the dancing. That's what Footloose is all about. With the music, all of the original songs have been modernized. I feel that it was successful in showing what teenagers of that age would be dancing and listening to. During some more emotional scenes that weren't in the original, the songs have been given a slower tempo. This will certainly appeal to Taylor Swift fans as it has that feel to it. As far as the dancing goes, everybody is a lot better than one would expect from a town of people who generally don't dance due to the law banning it. The opening sequence playing the hit song Footloose is still just as fun as it was in the original. A similar camera angle displaying people's feet as they dance still accompanies the song. Fans or newcomers, you will still find it difficult to resist tapping your feet to the beat. When it comes to the audio department, those with a home theater will be jovial to know that this is a reference track. The dialogue is perfectly mixed and the music is crisp and has incredibly balanced highs as well as deep and punchy lows. The music sounds as clear as it could. In both the video and audio departments, Footloose (2011) is satisfying.

I'm not a fan of the original Footloose, but I still decided to check out the remake. It still follows the same story, but modernizes it for the current generation. The story is just as predictable and cliché with the same unconvincing ending. I didn't like how the writer tries too hard for us to like the lead character by adding the sad backstory. It makes it feel even more unbelievable and doesn't do the feature any favors when it comes to liking the characters any more. The acting is fine, but don't expect anything ground-breaking. Those who are fans of the dances that were originally shown in the 1984 version should be pleased with those seen here. The film is accompanied with a masterful video and audio transfer. Footloose (2011) isn't as good as the original due to its made-for-TV feel and some changes that simply didn't work out so well, but it could have been much worse.

My Rating = Two and One Half Stars

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