Footloose Pales in Comparison

By Gabrielle Abesamis

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Unless you are against remakes of 20th century movies or haven’t seen the original production of “Footloose,” you may just enjoy the 2011 version. Viewers in the theatre had so many mixed reactions. Though some were entertained and singing along, part of the audience was clearly annoyed and bored because they would loudly share the fact that they could predict a bunch of the lines. If you have some memory of the script in the 1984 movie, you’ll realize that the creators of the remake used them too. Because the two versions had a nearly identical script and story, the remake wasn’t too bad but the original was better.

Twenty-seven years before the remake was launched, director Herbert Ross (“Steel Magnolias”) released the classic American drama-musical “Footloose.” The movie starred Kevin Bacon (“Crazy, Stupid, Love”) as Ren MacCormack, a high school senior from Chicago who moves to a much smaller town in the Tennessee called Bomont. There he meets and falls in love with Lori Singer’s (“Summer Heat”) character, Ariel Moore, the pastor’s rebellious daughter. It turns out that there’s more to Bomont than being a small town.  Dancing and loud music are illegal due to a car accident that brought the death of Ariel’s brother and friends. Her father, Rev. Moore, fights to allow this law because he fears losing his last living child and feels that it is his duty to protect the town from making the same mistakes. Going against the result  of a tragic accident which involves your future girlfriend’s family might be a big endeavor, but Ren’s passion for dancing leads him into fighting to permit them again.

“Footloose” (2011) includes Julianne Hough (“Dancing With the Stars”) as Ariel and Kenny Wormald (“Center Stage: Turn It Up”) as Ren. Besides the actors, there isn’t really much of a difference with the movie. The first scene of the movie copies the 1984 production exactly; the camera focuses on dancing feet that really wouldn’t dance that way if the camera focused on the dancer’s full body angle. Unless you’re a maniac, I don’t think anyone really dances the way the feet did in the movie.

If you’re wondering why you’ve never seen the guy who played Ren before, you’re not alone. Wormald was practically a complete stranger to the entertainment industry until he took the role in this movie. His acting experiences include low budget dance movies like “You Got Served” and “Clerks 2.” Have you ever even heard of those, did you like it if you have? I didn’t and I had to force myself to remember how they were. I think the remake of “Footloose” is the only good thing in his acting résumé. His performance wasn’t too shabby. I’ve seen better dancers and I think he might have tried too hard to copy Kevin Bacon. I found myself laughing at an inappropriate time when it came to the scene where he was dancing his frustrations out in the warehouse. I mean, who still does scenes when they talk to themselves so viewers can understand what they’re thinking? Come on, there’s got to be a better way to show that.

Casting Julianne Hough as Ariel was one of the wisest decisions the creators made when they built the cast for this movie. The 23-year-old definitely passed for a high school senior . It seems like the first Ariel Moore was more of an actress than a dancer and her dancing skills were not really displayed. Hough’s simple line-dancing alone can make so many girls jealous and it helps with her uncommon character development in the movie. Her acting skills are pretty decent considering the fact that her experience consists of Disney Channel commercials and an uncredited extra in a Harry Potter movie. She pushes viewers to sympathize with her experiences and reasons for her actions when she has a dramatic conversation with her father about how the town changed since her brother died.

Director and writer Craig Brewer (“Hustle and Flow”) could have done better with his time. I’m left with the impression that he was too inspired by the first film. I wouldn’t be shocked if he told the actors to go home and watch the first movie over and over again until they could act exactly the the same way and be unoriginal. It’s probably harder creating a movie exactly like another instead of being creating an original movie. Why would he give himself a hard time like that?

The overall movie will not be remembered. Decades from now, people will hear the word “Footloose” and they’ll automatically think of the classic and not the remake.

Footloose is rated PG-13.