- Nov 15, 2001
- Real Name
- Neil Middlemiss
There is often something quite cynical about remakes. Rather than artistic pursuits, the quest for riches is often more than apparent as the sole reason for a picture to exist. This can be said for ‘original’ pieces also, but revisiting something that has already made its mark on cinema can so easily seem like nothing more than a likely ‘safe-bet’ by a studio. So it is with great interest that Footloose was reviewed. Hardly a classic to begin with, Footloose (1984) with Kevin Bacon is nonetheless a staple of the pop-culture lexicon and a fondly remember film of exuberance, defiance and of course, dance itself.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
US Rating: PG-13 for Some Teen Drug and Alcohol Use, Sexual Content, Violence and Language
Film Length: 113 Minutes
Video: AVC MPEG-4 1080P High Definition 16X9
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Review Date: March 4, 2012
Wait, wait, wait. Jump back. Are you kidding me? Dancing is against the law?
Arriving in the simply rural life of Bomont, Ga, young Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) cannot help but feel like an outsider. Still deeply affected by his mother’s passing, moving to the small town to stay with his uncle (Ray McKinnon) was not exactly his plan. But he soon discovers the town is reeling from its own painful past where, after an evening of loud music, dancing and drinking, several teens – one of which was the son of the town’s reverend – were killed in a brutal crash. As a result, the town instituted a series of rules aimed at protecting the lives of their children – all of which have served to stifle youthful exuberance. And although it keeps the town’s teens safe, it has become a shackle that for newcomer Ren MacCormack makes little sense and is ripe for challenge.
Footloose is a fairly faithful remake of the original, updating vernacular and some songs but thankfully keeping the spirit of the original and the focus on the personal story of dealing with tragedy. It isn’t a deeply moving drama, but it is enough of a core to make the peripheral elements of the story matter more than some others in the steady dance genre. Given the popularity of dance films over the past decade – to include Stomp the Yard, Save the Last Dance and the Step Up franchise, it would have been no surprise to see Paramount seek to update the recognizable ‘Footloose’ name to cater to audiences who seems to have embraced the lavish dance routines, dance battles and teenage urban angst that have become staples of recent dance features and musicals (with varying degrees of success, though Stomp the Yard was a more mature film by comparison). But fortunately, the studio, along with Brewer – who cites the original as a favorite and an influence – chose to seek a more grounded effort.
Director Craig Brewer who wrote and directed both the impressive Hustle & Flow and the somewhat more abstract Black Snake Moan, was reluctant to take on directorial duties on Footloose after High School Musical director Kenny Ortega left over budgetary disagreements (Ortega wanted a much larger budget than Paramount was willing to part with). Taking on a favorite film carries with it a number of understandable risks. But Brewer’s instincts to be comfortable (and embrace) the more modest budget certainly pays off. Footloose at its core is a small town overreacting to tragedy and, through the actions of a few under-respected teens, being shaken loose to remember that the balance between safety and liberty is one which requires a steady hand and one where knee-jerk reactions, even well-meaning ones, carry great danger. Exploring this uncomplicated theme does not require grand and lavish sequences but rather more intimate, organic moments with which to grow its characters and story.
In the original, Kevin Bacon was often doubled during dancing sequences. For the remake, the producers sought an actor with a solid dancing background and found a suitable actor (following Zac Ephron’s departure) in Kenny Wormald. While not the most emotively eloquent actor, there is an appropriate rawness to him and his particular, unpolished-seeming dancing technique which feesl entirely natural to the setting. Wormald sports an interesting and distinct 50s vibe with echoes of James Dean in his wardrobe and hairstyling that won’t be not missed on anyone old enough to know who James Dean was. As Ren’s love interest, Ariel, is Julianne Hough (of Dancing with the Stars fame). While not the strongest actress, she is able to carry off the rebellious characteristics reasonably well, though her delivery of dialogue is often too soaked with attitude to be believable and there is far too little chemistry between her and co-star Wormald. Dennis Quaid as Reverend Shaw Moore, the architect of the town’s oppressive rules for the teenage and young population to contend, is also somewhat ill-fitting. He is the right age and demeanor, but he is never able to pull off the religious role. Andie MacDowell is perfectly fine as the reverend’s wife but is sorely underused (as she has been of late). One highlight of the cast is Miles Teller as Willard. Crafted as the comic-relief, Teller, with his likeable southern drawl, succeeds in capturing the lighter side of teenage life but without the unnecessary burden of tired stereotype or obnoxiousness (which so often is a pressing weight of the humorous friend in ‘teen’ films).
There are some problems with this modern retellings execution, however. Brewers skill behind the camera is not at issue, but the assembly of the pieces poses some problems. Several plot points in this story tend not to land well, giving an occasionally disjointed flow and, as previously mentioned, a couple of the cast fail to meld comfortably with their roles. Additionally, there is a reliance on common figures of good and bad. Ren is polite and clean shaven while fast cars and unshaven men represent the ‘bad’ element, but that is a minor quibble really. Overall, these issues aside, Footloose remains quite an entertaining retelling of this simple tale.
Footloose looks terrific on Blu-ray. This 1080p High Definition release (MPEG-4 AVC) is presented with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and, courtesy of Amelia Vincent’s superb cinematography, has a lush look and feel, beautifully representative of the Super 35 film stock upon which it was captured, with bold bursts of green and sunny yellows and gold awash over the rural scenes. Reds are quite dimensional and throughout the bright and colorful presentation there is a great texture to the image. Digital interference is unnoticeable leaving this film looking simply excellent in HD.
For a film with a heavy reliance upon music to tell its story, the audio performance is a vital component of the viewing experience. Footloose literally shakes the roof with a throbbing soundtrack that pulsates playfully most of the time and presents with high quality ambient surround sounds. The surrounds are superbly balanced giving a complete and surprisingly immersive quality to the audio. The center channel carries the lion’s share of dialogue and is perfectly crisp. There are no issues whatsoever to report on this throaty, precise audio.
3.5 / 5
Blu-ray version of the film
Commentary by Director Craig Brewer: A solid commentary track from an interesting filmmaker. Brewer reflects fondly upon the original and how he came to direct this feature. Plenty of anecdotes, discussion of the music in the film, and how authentic the locations were (including a working cotton mill).
Jump Back: Re-imagining Footloose (14:46) (HD): Cast and crew (including the writer) talk about going back to retell the story of Footloose, remaining faithful while giving it a new feel – an update – for the new generation.
Everybody Cut: The Stars of Footloose (12:59) (HD): Another reflection on this remake covering more of the casting process and the actors making these roles their own.
Dancing with the Footloose Stars (12:38) (HD): This special feature takes a look at the dancing sequences and the choreography.
Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director Craig Brewer (6:54) (HD): 5 deleted scenes, mostly short but included here as some minor moments that would have helped connect some of the character dots.
“Footloose” Music Video by Blake Shelton
“Fake ID” Music Video by Big & Rich
“Holding Out for a Hero” Music Video by Ella Mae Bowen
Footloose Rap (2:01) (HD): The title card that begins this special feature says it all, “the filmmakers of the new Footloose heard about a video online called Footloose Rap by Emily Whitcomb, inspired by the original Footloose from 1984, Director Craig Brewer invited Emily to come ‘remake’ her Footloose rap with help from the film’s stars, Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough, before a special screening in Minneapolis”.
DVD + Digital Copy of the film
Footloose is a good film and manages to entertaining but doesn’t quite come together to be a ‘great’ film. Brewer uses music in each of his films as a character unto itself, using an assembly of rock, country, hip-hop, blues and so many more genres in between to augment sequences, convey tone or subtext, or simply to ‘amp’ up a moment for fun’s sake. A blend of classic songs from the 80s covered by artists of today give the soundtrack to Footloose and interesting tone (rather than simply finding ‘new’ songs to extract entertainment). Still, it is odd that with a healthy dose of songs from artists such as Blake Shelton (NBC’s The Voice), Big & Rich, Ella Mae Bowne and others, this film failed to reach the level of success I am sure the studio had hoped.
Overall (Not an average)