Footloose | Film review
This faithful remake feels less than six degrees removed from its wholesome ’80s ancestor.
The hairdos are smaller, the music is fresher and, yes, the dance steps are a little naughtier. Otherwise, the sleepy little town of Bomont, Texas, looks about the same today as it did 27 years ago, when Kevin Bacon sauntered in and taught the locals how to kick off their Sunday shoes. That’s because this new Footloose, like last month’s Straw Dogs, is a remake by way ofXerox. Scene for scene, it’s the same wholesome crowd-pleaser, down to the ubiquitous Kenny Loggins theme that bookendsthe festivities.
And maybe that’s not such a bad thing. With its endearing faith in the cathartic value of dance, 1984’s Footloose remains a pretty irresistible slice of cheese. The new version, faithful despite its concessions to a demographic weaned on Step Up and You Got Served, preserves the spirit of its namesake. Kenny Wormald, a backup dancer turned budding Hollywood heartthrob, approximates the swaggering insolence of Bacon’s fish out of water. He’s a Bostonian now instead of a Chicagoan—he sounds like Mark Wahlberg in The Departed—and as his Ren romances the local pastor’s daughter (Julianne Hough) and takes on the town’s anti-dance legislation, Wormald summons a cocksure charisma all his own.
Save the rest of the credit for Craig Brewer, the Hustle & Flow helmsman, finally ditching his faux-grindhouse affectations and letting Hollywood instincts take charge. It’s his little modifications that matter most here. For example: While Ren still has to perform that impromptu, gymnastics-based dance routine in an empty warehouse, he gets to do it to the White Stripes instead of Moving Pictures. The original Footloose soundtrack just got served.