FilmOctober 13, 2011 at 5:45 am

Bring Back the Bacon

The latest Footloose remake misses a beat

1.5/5 stars
Directed by: Craig Brewer
Starring: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid
See if you liked: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights
Rated PG–13, 113 min.

It is rare for remakes to live up to the glory of the original, so Footloose by its nature invites a certain skepticism. However, this musical dramedy doesn’t come close to distinguising itself and fails to meet already–low expectations.

The town of Bomont is shaken up after several high school seniors die in a car crash on the way home from a dance party. The community responds with the most obvious reaction — ban dancing.

Three years later, Boston–raised Ren McCormack (Wormald) moves to Bomont to live with his aunt and uncle and finds himself challenging the no–dancing decree.

Ren’s predictably corruptible love interest comes in the form of the town hoochy, Ariel (Hough), who often bears her midriff and also happens to be the daughter of the local reverend (Quaid, looking miraculously un–aged since his Parent Trap days).

It is the classic struggle between overprotective parents and teenagers trying to rebel, but to them, the ultimate rebillion is dancing. On a side note, the film completely glosses over the fact that the car crash was clearly a result of drunk driving, and instead the town chooses to blame the accident on artistic expression. Dubious at best.

READ: Are Musical Theater Adaptations Done?

A similar storyline may have worked 27 years ago, but this time it falls flat. The lack of character development means that supposedly poignant and emotional moments fail to affect the audience, except to call attention to over–the–top acting. Zooming in closer and closer to highlight a tear sparkling in the corner of an actor’s eye does not make a scene more powerful. Instead, such moments come off as empty rather than touching and give the film a cheap made–for–TV feel.

There are some funny moments in Footloose, but none are intentional. The forced, cliched jokes are cringe–worthy, and it’s only the sheer ridiculousness of certain scenes that provides humor. For example, the colossally overdone and completely unnecessary bejeweled school bus racing scene. Yes, it’s just as weird as it sounds. Or consider slow motion, angry dancing in an empty warehouse. There are simply no words.

However, the film highlights undeniably good dancing, especially by Hough and Wormald, both professional dancers. The soundtrack isn’t terrible either, and is most successful when featuring classics like “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” and “Footloose” from the original. But the choppy structure, undeveloped characters and silly script result in a film that never comes together.

People seeking the 80s feel–good charm of the 1984 Footloose will find that this remake is neither feel–good nor charming. Netflix the original, but for God’s sake, don’t waste two hours on this cheese–fest.

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