Jamie Kennedy's favorite movie review site
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 7.14%
Just Average: 21.43%
Pretty Crappy: 7.14%

1 review, 8 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Craft, The: Legacy by Peter Sobczynski

Forbidden World by Jack Sommersby

Joysticks by Jack Sommersby

Exterminator/Exterminator 2, The by Jack Sommersby

Doorman, The (2020) by Jay Seaver

Postmortem by Jack Sommersby

Warrior and the Sorceress, The by Jack Sommersby

Come True by Jay Seaver

Prisoners of the Lost Universe by Jack Sommersby

Stand Alone by Jack Sommersby

subscribe to this feed

Footloose (2011)
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Peter Sobczynski

"Where Have All The Good Films Gone?"
1 stars

I suppose I should admit up front that when I first saw "Footloose" way back in that prehistoric era known as early 1984, it had precious little impact upon my tender young psyche. Frankly, I was more jazzed about the bizarre trailer that someone had inexplicably attached to the print for some weird-looking thing entitled "Repo Man" than anything that occurred during the feature presentation. Of course, mine was definitely a minority opinion, especially within my age group at the time, and, fueled in no small part by its wildly successful soundtrack album and the round-the-clock play that the videos for the songs garnered on the then-at-its-heyday MTV (NOTE: Insert snarky comment about how MTV used to play videos here), the film was a major box-office hit in its day and, thanks to the strange cultural convention that has apparently required the cultural deification of every teen-oriented movie from that era with the exceptions of "Blame It on Rio" and "Electric Dreams," it continues to be watched and adored/mocked by new generations of viewers who have inexplicably deemed it a classic of some sort.

Therefore, seeing as how practically every other film from the era (aside from "Blame it on Rio" and "Electric Dreams," of course) has been getting the remake/sequel/prequel treatment these days, I cannot say that it came as much of a surprise to discover that a new version of "Footloose" was coming and while I cannot say that I was looking forward to such a thing with anything remotely resembling enthusiasm, I just assumed that anyone attempting such a thing would choose to go in a different direction from the original, either by doing it as a straightforward musical in the manner of the hit stage adaptation or by figuring out a way to take its basic premise, which was already pretty creaky when it was initially offered 27 years ago, and spin it in a manner that would address contemporary youth concerns in some way, shape or form. But no, as it turns out, aside from a couple of minor details here and there, the makers of this new version of "Footloose" have remained so faithful to the original that it makes what Gus van Sant did with "Psycho" seem positively free-wheeling by comparison. That is bad enough but to make matters worse, it treats the inherently ridiculous material with a solemnity that is utterly at odds with its basic foolishness. As a result, even those who adored the original are likely to not only find this iteration to be unnecessary at nest and downright ludicrous at worst, they may find themselves finally wondering what it is that they could have possibly seen in it in the first place.

For those of you who missed it the first time around, the plot to "Footloose" is simplistic enough to practically make "Grease" look as complex as the collected works of Thomas Pynchon by comparison. Our hero is Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald), a hip Boston kid who, following a family tragedy, has been moved to the quaint little burg of Bomont, Tennessee to live with relatives following the death of his mother. As it turns out, Bomont was the site of a tragedy three years earlier when a bunch of local teenagers who, after a night of dancing and underage drinking, were killed in an auto accident and, in an effort to bring the populace back together through the joys of repression, the powerful local leader Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid), whose son was among those killed in the crash, pushes through a number of local bans on such things as loud music and dancing. (Of course, one might have suggest that more time and energy be devoted to cracking down on underage drinking but never mind.) Inevitably, Ren, with his complicated pants and fully loaded iPod immediately runs afoul of town authorities and local toughs alike, especially after he catches the eye of high school hellcat Ariel (Julianne Hough), who naturally happens to be both the daughter of Rev. Moore and the girlfriend of the area's chief hood. With the help of Ariel and a couple of new friends like amiable-but-clumsy oaf Willard (Miles Teller), Ren decides to set out on a seemingly quixotic mission to overturn the ban on dancing so that all the local kids can kick off their Sunday shoes and whatnot. I wouldn't dream of revealing anything more but if you can't figure out more or less exactly how it proceeds from this point, there is a very good chance that you may not quite be able to figure out how to make it to the multiplex under your own power or how to avoid wandering into the auditorium showing "Human Centipede II."

The most surprising aspect about "Footloose" is that it was co-written and directed by none other than Craig Brewer, the decidedly iconoclastic filmmaker behind such controversial items as "Hustle and Flow" and "Black Snake Moan." Whether you loved or hated those films, and there was no real middle road to be taken with either of them (I disliked the former and loved the latter), most viewers had to admit that they were the creations of a bold, audacious and occasionally foolhardy director who reveled in swinging for the fences with every at-bat and who wasn't worried about falling on his ass and making a fool of himself in the process. The notion of him applying his decidedly unique skill-set to something as utterly square as "Footloose" seemed on the surface to be the oddest remake pairing of director and material since the normally scabrous Neil LaBute took on the genteel screwball comedy "Death at a Funeral" and I can't imagine what it was about his oeuvre that made the higher-ups at Paramount think that he would be a good match for the property. Then again, the best movie remakes have often been the result of familiar material being given a complete going-over at the hands of a keenly idiosyncratic filmmaker--think David Cronenberg and "The Fly" or John Carpenter and "The Thing," for example. Given the chance to chop and channel the material to fit his own unique cinematic stylings, perhaps Brewer could pull off the impossible and actually make something of value out of something as non-essential as "Footloose."

Alas, that is not the case here because instead of bringing his unique vision to the proceedings, Brewer has instead chosen to make an exceptionally lavish homage to the original in which, save for a new prologue briefly dramatizing the fatal car crash and a couple of cosmetic changes here and there (the game of chicken is now played with wrecked school buses on a demolition derby track instead of on tractors), practically everything is the same, right down to Ren showing up for his first day of school once again dressed up like the "Serious Moonlight"-era David Bowie and startles his new classmates, most likely because they have no idea who David Bowie even is. The film sticks so closely to the original, in fact, that if one of the actors suddenly dropped a line, most viewers could readily offer up the cue. I suppose I can understand why Brewer would decide to so slavishly imitate the original--why mess with a proven formula when it could lead to your first big box-office hit after making a couple of cult oddities that didn't exactly break through to the mainstream?--but of all the stories in the world that didn't need a note-for-note retread, it is "Footloose." Actually, the story plays even worse today because while the premise of a small town that had banned dancing was kind of shaky even back in 1984, it wasn't completely out of the realm of possibility, I suppose, none of it make any sense at all nowadays. If a town tried to do that these days, how long do you think it would take after the enactment of the law before some angry kid blogged about it, the news got picked up by the media and Ren and his friends wound up appearing on the "Today" show or "Dancing with the Stars" while the ACLU dropped in to get the ban overturned. I know, to add logic to something like this is madness but to try to tell this story without even tacitly acknowledging that times have changed is equally deranged.

If the original "Footloose" had a saving grace to it, it was in the fact that it was lucky to get a group of actors in it that were much better than the material deserved. By the time that it came out, Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer had popped up in a few things here and there but both became stars--one somewhat longer lasting than the others--thanks to their obvious charisma. As the reverend, John Lithgow managed to take what was essentially a one-note character and make him seem at least a little plausible, if not as wholly believable as he would appear later that year as Dr. Emilio Lizardo in the classic "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai." Hell, even the now-annoying Sarah Jessica Parker--then hot off the cancelled-too-soon cult TV favorite "Square Pegs"--was reasonably fresh and attractive and engaging as the heroine's best pal. By comparison, the cast this time around feels like a group on understudies who have thrown into the spotlight with little preparation and less chemistry. Wormald and Hough can certainly dance up a storm but when it comes to doing anything that doesn't involve cutting a rug, they both come up painfully short. Wormald, for example, has no real screen presence to speak of and is so indistinct at times that even though he is actually from Boston in real life, he seems to be incapable of maintaining his accident from scene to scene or even from line to line at some points. As for Hough, she is pretty to look at and has a dazzling smile but she just cannot act worth the proverbial hill of beans. (A hill of beans might have been an improvement under the circumstances, though not in the area of filling out a pair of tight jeans, of course.) As for the people in the cast who actually can act, Dennis Quaid goes through the proceedings with a sheepish look that suggests that he is embarrassed with some of the material he has been asked to deliver while Andie MacDowell, playing Quaid's wife, is saddled with a role that is so insubstantial that I can only assume that she took it in the first place because her appearance in "Monte Carlo" didn't quite satisfy her desire to play a worried mom who pops up early on to supply some exposition and then more or less disappear from the proceedings. The closest thing to an engaging performance comes from newcomer Ziah Colon as Ariel's best friend. she doesn't really have much to do other than recite all the expected best pal lines but she is sweet-natured and has both a winning smile and actual traces of personality; she isn't able to make much of the part or the proceedings but she at least helps the proceedings go down a little easier while she is around.

For the most part, however, "Footloose" is a real drag from beginning to end and the few scenes that do sort of work here--such as Ren's dance of rage in an abandoned warehouse and his efforts to teach his pal Willard how to dance--do so because they were the most foolproof moments from the original and not even this version can completely screw them up. Other than that, this is one of the most unnecessary remakes to come along in a while and while I am almost certain that it will make more than a few bucks at the box-office from the kids who remember their older siblings going gaga over the "High School Musical" saga, I am equally certain that will never achieve even a sliver of the pop cultural cachet of the original and it will quickly join the other residents of the Island Of Useless Remakes where it will become just another cinematic footnote.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19932&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/14/11 00:00:00
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

7/02/16 Jeff Wilder Dancing superb. Soap aspects don't work. 3 stars
8/21/12 keri a good dance. flick with drama tv and humor, willard. is the highlight 4 stars
7/28/12 cr a good remake in hollywood craze to remake ever movie. goood movie 3 stars
11/22/11 Tiffany Faye Hawthorne Painful from start to finish 1 stars
10/18/11 Magic An unneccessary remake to an already anachronistic movie, even back in the 80s. 2 stars
10/16/11 Phineas Had to throw in the Blackie-teaches-Whitey-how-to-dance propaganda horseshit,didn' they? 1 stars
10/16/11 lee chew junk 1 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  14-Oct-2011 (PG-13)
  DVD: 06-Mar-2012


  DVD: 06-Mar-2012

Directed by
  Kenny Ortega

Written by
  Peter Sollett
  Jon Hartmere

  Chace Crawford
  Julianne Hough

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Privacy Policy | | HBS Inc. |   
All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast