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Craig Brewer's FOOTLOOSE is fun in all the right places--and until you've seen it, reserve judgment!!!

Published at: Oct. 14, 2011, 1:46 a.m. CST by Capone

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

Remakes are a tricky thing. No shit. We complain when, for example, a classic horror film is updated and tricked out with unnecessary backstory. To paraphrase Patton Oswalt's quote about the STAR TREK prequels, just because I like something doesn't mean I want to know how it was made. At the same time, if a filmmaker is too faithful to the original, the gripes then become something along the lines of "Why did they bother remaking that?" The third camp ("All. Remakes. Suck") is at least easier to define. And I'm guessing that filmmaker Craig Brewer (HUSTLE & FLOW; BLACK SNAKE MOAN) isn't a big fan of remakes either. But here's the thing: once you see his take on Footloose, the 1984 film that made Kevin Bacon a star, you'll instantly realize that he re-did this tale of a small town that has banned dancing because he's its biggest fan.

The updates in Brewer's FOOTLOOSE are minor and ultimately they don't made a difference in whether or not I liked this undeniable crowd-pleaser that relies as much on fan memories of the original film as it does on simply getting audiences tapping their toes, sometimes to the same songs that populated the monster soundtrack nearly 30 years ago.

The most startling addition to Brewer's FOOTLOOSE is the opening dance to the original Kenny Loggins' theme song. And while we hear all about the post-dance horrible accident that killed several high school students in the original film, in this new version, the accident is (tastefully) shown, and for some reason it makes a big difference. The tragedy is more immediate, and the town's reaction (led by Rev. Moore, played nicely by Dennis Quaid) doesn't seem quite as unwarranted. This is a town that wants to protect its children, and it will do anything to make that happen. It doesn't take a political science degree to see that Brewer is commenting on America and its perceived tendency in the last 10 years to overreact to potential danger. And he pulls off this message without having to change much at all with the plot.

Actual professional dancer Kenny Wormald plays Boston transplant Ren McCormack, who comes to town after his mother dies of cancer to stay with his aunt and uncle. He's a bit shocked at the not dancing/no loud music laws, but his rebel stance attracts the attention of the reverend's daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough of "Dancing with the Stars" fame, who actually does a solid job acting as well). And if you know the original film, you know how things fall into place. Ren and Ariel flirt, her scumbag boyfriend (Patrick Flueger from MOTHER'S DAY) gets jealous, the kids protest the no dancing rules so they can have a end-of-year dance, and Ren makes an impassioned, bible-quoting speech before the town elders to bring back the dance.

The legendary "angry dance" is still present, but it's slightly altered so that Ren is actually crashing into the machines and random debris that is cluttering the empty warehouse. And the sequence in which Ren teaches his new best buddy Willard (Miles Teller) to dance is practically a shot-for-shot redo. As the ultimate FOOTLOOSE fan, Brewer is keenly aware of what works from the original film and what needs a boost, and the darker edge he brought to his previous two works serve him well at bringing some poignant drama to the proceedings. I was particularly weirded out by a sequence in which Ariel's boyfriend pressures her to have sex, and then she gives in so he won't break up with her. Sadly, this is probably a more realistic take on such situations in today's world.

But I keep coming back to one crucial point about FOOTLOOSE: it's wildly entertaining for the plain and simple reason that Brewer loves the material. Wormald isn't the greatest actor the world has ever seen, but his big speech near the end of the film is delivered with just the right amount of fire. And his dancing is undeniably impressive. I liked the friendship that develops between Ren and Willard; I bought that these two guys would look out for each other, and Teller is especially strong here.

Here's my one and only challenge to you: Watch before you react. See the film before you dismiss it. You don't have to like it, but you at least have to give it a fair shake before you bad mouth it. I know too many people who walked into the new FOOTLOOSE skeptics and came out fans of the work. I think you will too. It's time to remember what being pleasantly surprised feels like. And then it'll be time to dance.

-- Capone
capone@aintitcool.com
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Readers Talkback

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  • Oct. 14, 2011, 1:47 a.m. CST

    BACON!!!

    by TheUmpireStrokesBach

  • Do you think someone who just really detested the original will enjoy this? Does it stand on its own?

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 1:58 a.m. CST

    Star Trek prequels?

    by Gislef_crow

    Oswalt talks about the Star Wars prequels.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 2 a.m. CST

    Julianne Hough has a fantastic shitter

    by Roger Moon

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 2:03 a.m. CST

    how does that dancing tramp's shit shack look in 3D

    by Xiphos_2

    I'm guessing her turd cutter looks fan-fucking -tastic popping right out at you.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 2:04 a.m. CST

    Stop it! No! This looks horrible!

    by Andrew Coleman

    This MTV garbage needs to die! These reviews seem to be pussy footing around the real issues. Like the lead looking horrible and should only play villains. Also a Footloose remake needed to change the main theme. A town outlawing dancing and partying would make news... With facebook and Twitter the story would explode. Also the theme is about older generations trying to hold other people to their values which is fucking wrong... This and the Thing remake are trash. You see it you're supporting the bullshit suit system. Fuck these movies.

  • anything else I'm missing?

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 2:49 a.m. CST

    Everybody cut, everybody cut...

    by iamnicksaicnsn

    Everybody cut! everybody cut...!

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 3:26 a.m. CST

    Eberts 1 & a 1/2 star review is pretty amusing...

    by Jay

    There's one thing to be said for a remake of a 1984 movie that uses the original's screenplay. This 2011 version is so similar — sometimes song for song and line for line — that I was wickedly tempted to reprint my 1984 review, word for word. But That Would be Wrong. I think I could have gotten away with it, though.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 3:34 a.m. CST

    I can hear the song in my head

    by Roger Moon

    and it hurts me

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 3:51 a.m. CST

    Sigh, I have to see it this weekend, my GF loves Julian Hough/DWTS

    by ganymede3010

    So I have no choice. I guess it's payback from me taking her to all the Marvel and Bayformers movies this summer:)-

  • The fact that AICN has been pimping this lazy cash in excuse for a film so hard is just yet another embarrassment that will be used by talkbackers as a stick to bash the site's diminished credibility with for many years to come.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 4:14 a.m. CST

    Ooooo...! Is that a campfire I see?

    by LargoJr

    Zzzzziiiiip!

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 4:16 a.m. CST

    Yeah, Capone never pre-judged a movie.

    by CaseyMcCall

    So I will reserve the right to say that this blows, and the 'hot girl' in it has an annoying voice. So no, I don't have to see it, thanks.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 4:49 a.m. CST

    Julianne Hough has already sold me a ticket to this movie.

    by wackybantha

    Now, where the hell did I put my Sunday shoes?

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 6:35 a.m. CST

    I believe all the positive response to this movie...

    by tylerzero

    ...still don't mean Imma see it.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 6:36 a.m. CST

    Is it krunk?

    by JAGUART

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 6:40 a.m. CST

    this will be a mojor bomb.

    by Eric

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 7:29 a.m. CST

    No, I'm going to go ahead and judge it

    by rev_skarekroe

    By never going to see it or rent it.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 7:32 a.m. CST

    But the music is shit

    by Nozoki

    goddamn I miss fun music in movies.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 7:48 a.m. CST

    Yeah sorry Capone

    by stupidmop

    As a kid I hated the original and thought it was ricockulous that a town would ban music this is a useless remake and you may have to turn in your nerd card for asking us to watch and mistaking Star Trek for Star Wars. I have loved this site for years but we may need to start a occupy aicn protest

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 7:57 a.m. CST

    ...and once again the trolls come out of the woodwork

    by ShiftyEyedDog

    Why do you bother reading and commenting on articles for films you have no interest in? You really need to get a life, since you having nothing better to do than troll message boards. The new film is very good. Deal with it.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 9:47 a.m. CST

    I will not judge this

    by BlaGyver

    That does not mean I'll go see it, but I won't prejudge it, and hell, if my little sister tries to get me to watch this with her when it comes out on DVD, I won't resist. I like that this is getting good reviews. For one thing, unless someone truly loathsome is attached to a movie (Uwe Boll, Ratner, Channing Tatum, etc), I don't necessarily enjoy seeing movies get bad reviews. This flick seems relatively harmless, Blake Shelton (guy that redid the title track for this) is a guilty pleasure, and I like the idea that kids going to see this won't be going to see pure shit, just harmless fun. Again, don't plan on seeing it, but I'm glad that when my mom inevitably asks me what I've heard about it (she asks me what I've heard about pretty much any movie she's considering seeing and if I've heard it sucks, she won't go see it) I can tell her she would enjoy it.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 9:48 a.m. CST

    I have nothing constructive or intelligent to say...

    by sullivansmith

    ... so I'm just going to call the author a "fag" and then go watch an Adam Sandler movie.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 10:56 a.m. CST

    Hated the original...

    by MaxHeadroom

    And I'll hate this one. There is dancing. What's NOT to hate?

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 12:08 p.m. CST

    Soundtrack?

    by bookant

    None of the reviews I've seen have mentioned it, none of the previews included enough to know . . . what the Hell is it? Is it "Footloose, remade with the same or similar music" in which case - meh, don't care, might Netflix it someday if I'm bored enough. Or is it "Footloose remade with that repetative talking-to-the-beat electronic shit that this generation calls music" in which case - no way in Hell I'll even watch this trash and GET OFF MY LAWN!

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 12:40 p.m. CST

    until you've seen it, reserve judgment!!!

    by Cletus Van Damme

    I'll remind you that you're in the AICN talkbacks, sir.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 1:14 p.m. CST

    What's going on with Dennis Quaid these days?

    by Series7

    I've always liked him, he's taking interesting roles. Namely Pandorum which AICN utterly ignored....why it shouldn't have.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 1:18 p.m. CST

    iTUNES

    by Todaysfate

    I sampled the CD tracks on iTUNES and it seemed to me 80% of the songs on it are COUNTRY. Id say thats a big difference from the original. "STEP UP" .. this is not. On another note ... where is the remake of RED DAWN? ... Thats what I was watching in those days.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 3:09 p.m. CST

    Footloose is GAYER THAN GAY

    by hatespeech

    it's shit, period.

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 3:57 p.m. CST

    Wow, what happened to reviewing cool movies???

    by Tikidonkeypunch

  • Oct. 14, 2011, 10:48 p.m. CST

    Wow.........

    by Batmangelo

    What the he'll is wrong with this site? When did all the reviewers become as gay as Harry ?the original was terrible and so is this shit

  • You let zillions of talckbackers hate any and every fucking movie out there, but it is for a Footloose remake that you ask to reserve judgment? Fuck, either you guys are deep into the director's arse or your own judgement has been clouded.

  • Oct. 15, 2011, 4:01 a.m. CST

    @stegman84

    by Franck

    You are dead on.

  • Oct. 15, 2011, 7:27 a.m. CST

    Enjoyed Footloose

    by B

    I enjoyed Footloose. As a teacher, I can see many of my students enjoying it also. Great movie for the kids and adults to watch together. Loved the director and how he talked about living in Chicago (Bolingbrook) at the AINCN screening.

  • Oct. 15, 2011, 11:43 p.m. CST

    I like deadline.com's comments

    by no1ofimportance

    Ask Paramount why a reboot of Footloose was even necessary and the sheepish answer is that the 2011 version cost just $24M and the bosses expected to make their money back this first weekend. But they didn’t:

  • Oct. 16, 2011, 1:47 a.m. CST

    I won't hate on this

    by Eric Dyer

    Because I just won't see it. Luckily, most of the U.S. has done the same- only estimated to make $15 million this weekend. Sounds like it will still be a profitable picture for Paramount. I just prefer to keep my memories of seeing the original on opening night. I remember the line of moviegoers stretching outside the shopping center waiting for a ticket (this was before the days of multiple screens). I also remember during a scene when Ariel's parents were in bed talking some kid in the theater yelled out "Where's the beef?". Totally 80's moment- cheesy/good times.

  • If you liked it, fine. But why are you guys trying so hard to endorse (rescue) this film? I call "agenda". Either everybody's trying to protect the director because they like him or the studio's desire to make their money back has long arms and lots of help. I don't know. I just look at that cover... and the trailer... and everything about both screams "DOUCHEBAGGERY". I don't think it says anything about this movie that it's getting good reviews. I think it says more about us. We're starting to settle for the suck. We're starting to get used to these shitty, vapid remakes and we're starting to make excuses for them. The starving hobos are all fighting over crackers now and have completely forgotten how a steak dinner tastes. This is depressing. Come on, AICN. Snap out of it and be the leaders of Occupy Hollywood you're supposed to be.