Big Screen :: Footloose
October 20th 2011
Nick La Rosa
I haven’t seen the Kevin Bacon Footloose because I have a moral objection to movies primarily about dancing (I have a complex moral code), and also because it looked like moronic nonsense. So if you are looking for the indepth, blow by blow, Footloose versus Footloose comparison you will have to watch David Stratton I guess. I only gave this one a go because I really like Craig Brewer as a filmmaker and was curious as to what he saw in this story other than, you know, feeding his family. Also, I was given a free ticket.
Brewer's first film was the electric Hustle and Flow, unfortunately most remembered for its ridiculous Oscar-winning song 'Its Hard Out Here for a Pimp'. He followed that up by chaining a pantless Christina Ricci to a radiator and having Samuel L Jackson preach Jesus to her in an attempt to cure her raging nymphomania in Black Snake Moan, a film I liked a lot (seriously). If you don't know the story, the Footlooses are about one boy’s heroic quest to stage a school formal in a small Texas town of big government-hating, freedom-loving, Tea-Partying rednecks who have made dancing illegal just because Reverend Dickhead had a son die in a car accident on the way home from a dance one time. I would have banned kids from driving, but what do I know.
This Footloose remake is a real movie, not a cheap cash-in. You get the sense that everyone involved is trying their hardest to make something good, and that’s something I couldn’t say about a lot of remakes seemingly designed exclusively to capitalise on name recognition. It is far better than any remake of Footloose has a right to be. There are some interesting choices made, particularly in the reasonably rough edges given to the Reverend's daughter, whom, of course, our hero (the out of towner, Ren) falls in love with. Ren is played by Kenny Wormald, and while I am not yet convinced anyone will be playing ‘6 Degrees of Kenny Wormald’ in twenty years time, he did OK. To be fair to the guy, it’s a tough role. I don’t think Laurence Olivier could pull off the scene where Ren gets so fed up with the injustice of Beaumont, Texas, that he drives to disused warehouse and does an epic angry dance/gymnastics routine.
The biggest problem the movie has is its ridiculous story. Every time the movie stops being about interesting kids living in a small conservative Texas town, and starts being about inspirational Bible-quoting pro-dance speeches my eyes started to glaze over. It was all just so stupid. I get the feeling Craig Brewer could make a really great movie about small town Texas, something along the lines of The Last Picture Show, or, uh, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but instead had to settle for making a halfway decent remake of Footloose. Hollywood is a tough town.