Francesca Rudkin

Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Movie Review: Footloose

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Dance scenes are well put together, and, happily the wardrobe choices are as bad as the original. Photo / Supplied
Dance scenes are well put together, and, happily the wardrobe choices are as bad as the original. Photo / Supplied

First came Transformers, Tron, The A-Team, Clash of the Titans, and The Karate Kid, to name just a few, and now Hollywood has re-opened the 80s vault again with a remake of pop culture classic Footloose.

For a 12-year-old girl in 1984 it was all about Kevin Bacon as he danced his way to superstardom to an annoyingly catchy tune by Kenny Loggins.

Director Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan) has stayed true to the essence of the original. But Footloose in 2011 is for a new generation who would be surprised to learn Kevin Bacon can dance. Four songs from the original soundtrack make the cut, re-recorded - Footloose, Holding Out for a Hero, Let's Hear It for the Boy and Almost Paradise.

Brewer worked with original writer Dean Pitchford and the story is very similar, although he has moved the location from Utah to Tennessee. There's still plenty of line dancing and country music, but Brewer has also injected much needed street cred by adding hip-hop music and moves. The wardrobe, somewhat reassuringly, remains appalling.

Taking centre stage is newcomer Kenny Wormald as Ren McCormack, a rebellious city boy who arrives in a small, old-fashioned, religious town to find teenagers have a curfew and it's against the law to play loud music or dance in public. Outraged his right to dance has been taken away, and encouraged by Ariel (Hough), his love interest and the troubled daughter of the local Reverend (Quaid), he fights the local council for the right to hold a senior prom.

Both Wormald and Hough put in a spirited effort, but just as Chris Penn did in the original, Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole) almost upstages everyone as Ren's funny sidekick, Willard. It's the only light relief in a drama which is more about a community dealing with death and the associated grief than I remembered. More of the amusing and feel-good moments would have been appreciated.

As would more of the electric dancing scenes. With cliched teenage angst and overly protective parents to navigate, the pace of the story ebbs and flows. But Brewer's dynamic and upbeat dance scenes bring it storming back to life. These scenes are well integrated into the story, even managing to keep Ren's solo dance number in an abandoned warehouse from appearing too corny.

Brewer has stamped his own mark on this film while remaining faithful to the original. While he works hard to engage us in the deeper matters impacting on this small community Footloose works best when it focuses on what its characters really want, and that's just to have fun.

Stars: 3/5
Cast: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough and Dennis Quaid
Director: Craig Brewer
Running Time: 116 mins
Rating: M (violence & sexual references)
Verdict: Film does a good job introducing this cheesy, toe-tapping story to a new generation.

- TImeOut

- NZ Herald

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