I've seen a lot of remakes this year. Last night, I saw a rancid piece of bullshit called STRAW DOGS, that is basically STRAW DOGS in an utterly retarded South with prettier folks than in the original - but is utter fucking bullshit. I hate it.
There's a remake coming, that I can't even hint at that I loathe at a level of complete rage.
Both of these two films are made by people that fundementally didn't understand the material, the casting requirements or the original source material in any way, shape or form! However, that's definitely not the case with FOOTLOOSE by Craig Brewer.
From the opening sequence, Craig goes somewhere that the original did not go... He shows us the original town trauma. How it happened, what it took from the community. This creates the hard nosed reality that small towns have to deal with. How do we protect our kids? This whole country went through that when 9/11 was broadcast and seared into our consciousness. How do we protect ourselves? Well, usually... those in charge grotesquely overreact. Instead of accepting that we will have tragedy in our lives, and that that's ok. WE DON'T HAVE TO REACT, we can simply take the hit and keep on living, honoring the memory of the fallen and move forward as a country or community. But at the heart of FOOTLOOSE - this opening scene gives us everything.
Dennis Quaid's Preacherman is a different animal from John Lithgow - who was frankly a little scary to me as a kid. Lithgow truly invokes GOD and is acting from a personal directive from God. Quaid is an open wound. He's festering and bleeding. It has made him intolerant of his daughter, and the happiness has gone from his life.
His daughter is "Hot to Trot" as we would say back in Seymour, Tx where I went to High School... You know the girl. She's got an itch that every boy would like to scratch, and she's used to turning her attention and getting what she wants. Some of this is out of a desire to get her father to actually engage. To see her and not the ghost of her dead brother.
Then you have REN hitting town. He's not Kevin Bacon. Unlike in the original, they take away his mother, giving Ren a very bitter back story. This is a boy matured. He's had to go through something that no High School kid should ever have to go through, which is a slow lingering death of a parent. It gives this Ren a soul and a deep-seeded anger that's more than just a town not letting him dance. Ren's life isn't fucking fair. Everyone blames him, thinks he's a shitty town bad boy, but not getting to dance or play music loud... that's the straw he won't allow to break his back. Kenny Wormald is new to the screen really. He's gonna make folks swoon. Not only has Craig coaxed a great performance out of this kid, but folks... HE CAN DANCE! Watch his Angry Dance? Watch his dance with his best mate, Willard - played to utter fucking perfection by Miles Teller, who you may remember from his excellent work in last year's RABBIT HOLE.
If I were running Paramount, I'd sign Kenny and Miles to a long contract, and then team them up for a series of Musical/Dramedies - their charisma together is just exciting and fun to watch. They play off of one another in a way that echoes some classic musical buddy comedy could. In fact - there's a tad of Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin from ON THE TOWN going on between these two - and that fucking owns!
Craig doesn't crank out dispassionate work, he crafts films that give a shit. It is so relieving to see... Someone coming to previously told material, but with a geniune desire to update and make it live as vibrantly if not more so than the original.
FOOTLOOSE gets put on by community theater and High Schools across the country. The story has fallen into the lexicon of HIGH SCHOOL language. It is perfect material for retelling, and I found myself wishing that Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and the Bowery Boys had done this in the late 30s... cuz I'd kill to see Mickey's take on Ren! Though, watching GIRL CRAZY, it doesn't take much to imagine.
Craig uses some of the music we know from the original, but he'll use it in a completely different and surprising manner. This is a remake worth checking out, it really makes you wanna dance!