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Film Review: Footloose

Oct 21, 2011 08:03AM ● By Wendy Sipple

Footloose follows Hollywood’s new frenzy of '80s film remakes. The story remains the same as the original: Ren is a teenager who is forced to move in with his uncle Wes after his mother dies of cancer. He falls for the daughter of a preacher who lost her older brother in a car accident. The car accident was the catalyst that lead the town to outlaw dancing. Ren and Ariel join forces to fight the law, have a prom and in the process deal with the loss of their family members.

It is clear that the people behind making this movie were big fans of the original. Footloose should be used as an example of how to do a remake the right way. The movie strikes the right balance of staying true to the original, including just the right choices of winks and nods to the fans of the original, while updating the appropriate details to make it exciting for a new generation of fans.

The number of likable characters in this movie is off the charts. Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough both do quite well with the roles of Ren and Ariel, made famous by Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. The extensive list of side characters in the story all have a believable and likable quality to them which really lifts the movie. My favorite in the film was Ren’s uncle Wes played by Ray McKinnon. Wes had most of the best scenes and lines in the movie, in my opinion. McKinnon does a great job of making that particular character jump off the screen. Dennis Quaid does a great job of the town’s preacher, too. Though he is one of the main adversaries in the movie, it’s easy to at least understand his perspective in establishing the law of no dancing.

The remake actually does a few things better than the original movie. I liked that they open the movie by showing the events leading up to the laws against partying and dancing. I also thought that the scenes late in the movie about dealing with the loss of a loved one were handled well. In addition I applaud the efforts to keep all the iconic songs in place, and just modernize their arrangements. I actually like the new versions of some of the songs better than their originals.

The remake retains many of the complaints I had with the original. First and foremost the law against dancing at face value is fairly silly. In some aspects that is part of the charm of the movie, but the seriousness with which the adults enforce this law is at times too heavy handed. I always thought the angry dancing scene in the warehouse was laugh out loud funny (which I don’t think was the intention of the filmmakers). The new version of the warehouse dance is equally as comical. There is also a really goofy scene that involves racing school buses on a racetrack. Although this scene may be fun, it is odd to say the least. Lastly a lot of the dancing is overly racy. Perhaps I am just getting old, but the dancing scenes alone are enough to perhaps reconsider letting young kids to see the film.

In the end Footloose, much like the original, captures and energy of youth. The movie is just a lot of fun. It helps that all of the characters are so darn likable. Even though it is silly and goofy in several parts it’s an easy movie to just follow. It’s a great reminder of an era in film when movies knew how to be fun before they got so serious in tone over the past two decades. Footloose is great escapism entertainment that both young and old will enjoy.

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Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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