‘Footloose’ Movie Review

Movies
October 27, 2011

New reboot of '80s teen-dancing drama is practically a cinematic clone

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Footloose
Starring Julianne Hough & Kenny Wormald
113 min., PG-13
Release date Oct. 14, 2011

The word "footloose" has been around for centuries, but since a certain movie nearly 30 years ago, it's become shorthand for Kevin Bacon with spiked hair and a skinny necktie, a town of repressed teenagers, and a catchy theme song performed by Kenny Loggins.

Hollywood has always been fond of revisiting familiar themes, but the new reboot of Footloose is practically a cinematic clone.

There's an all-new cast, new hip-hopped, country-fried, crunked-up soundtrack tunes, and a couple of minor embellishments, like changing the location from Oklahoma to Georgia. But the characters, the scenes, the dancing, even much of the dialogue-they're all plugged into a rigidly prefabricated storyline that treats its 1984 predecessor more as holy writ instead of perishable Reagan-era cheese.  

In case you're unfamiliar with the premise, it's about a small town where over-zealous city fathers ban lascivious dancing after a car full of tipsy teens perish on the way home from an event where the music was blaring, the bodies were shaking and the beer was flowing.

Three years down the road from the tragic accident, life has moved on. Prohibited from shaking their groove thangs in public, kids have taken dancing underground, where a thriving subculture has created an entire high school of hoofers talented enough to freestyle on "So You Think You Can Dance."

Then a transplanted new kid, Ren (Kenny Wormald stepping into the original Kevin Bacon role), comes to town. Incredulous at the puritanical no-fun zone in which he finds himself landed and stranded, he sparks a boot-scootin' revolution.

Former Dancing With The Stars cast member and country music performer Julianne Hough plays Ariel, the rebellious preacher's kid with a hankering for bad boys. Dennis Quaid is her overprotective, man-of-the-cloth father, whose stand-by-your-man wife (Andie McDowell) calmly suggests he could stand to cut their daughter some slack.

Although this new Footloose is set in a modern world, there's something about it almost bizarrely out of time, out of place and out of sync. It depicts a Southern community where iced tea is served strangely iceless, the local cotton factory doesn't seem to have any technology beyond the Iron Age, and kids take over the drive-in theater (a '50s relic in a 21st century remake of an '80s flick-now there's a doozie of a time-warper) for sweaty, sexy, after-hours dance-offs.

It may be Georgia in 2011, but it seems like another planet.

But none of that will probably matter to the target audience of teens and young adults fuzzy on the details about another movie of the same name, from an era that seems prehistoric to anyone under the age of 25. In both movies, Ren stands before the city council and urges them to lift the ban on dancing, imploring them to break the chains of yesteryear, to give youth back their right to bump and grind.

"This is our time!" he says, his Bostonian "outsider" accent ringing in the Southern ears of what appears to be the entire town turned out for the meeting.

And so it is, as it has ever been, as it always shall be: Every generation has its time…time to cut loose-footloose!