Though it’s not entirely clear that the world needs a "Footloose" remake, it's good to know that the one we've been given is at least a worthy update of the original film that wowed audiences in 1984 and made a star of Kevin Bacon.
Kenny Wormald takes over for Bacon in the role of Ren McCormack, a city kid who, following the death of his mother, must move to a small Georgia town where it's against the law for kids to dance. It seems the local preacher's son and four other kids died in a terrible car accident three years earlier after a night of–you guessed it—dancing. Compelled by a need to protect his daughter and the rest of his flock, Rev. Moore (Dennis Quaid) spearheads the movement to outlaw dancing. And even if you've never seen the original, it won't surprise you to learn that the preacher's daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough), is the hottest girl in all of Bomont, GA. OK, yes, it's a stupid premise, and the film is riddled with plot holes Andre the Giant could dance through, but "Footloose" is made well enough, and the dancing is good enough, that the film largely succeeds.
Director Craig Brewer ("Hustle & Flow", "Black Snake Moan") is from Virginia and has spent much of his life in Memphis, and his familiarity with the South pays dividends as the film recreates the look, vibe and feel of the region -- the Episcopalian reverence, the dust, the hay, the race track all feel authentic.
Hough, for her part, has made a huge upgrade from her minor role in last year's miserable "Burlesque." She nicely captures the preacher's daughter/bad girl vibe without descending into camp. Though let this be a warning to casting agents: This is the absolute last time you can cast this woman as a teen—got it?
PopcornBiz Sees "Footloose" With a Dancer
Miles Teller, who made his feature film debut with a moving performance opposite Nicole Kidman in last year's "Rabbit Hole," is the unquestioned star of every scene he's in here. For all the charisma that Wormald possesses, Teller outshines him at every turn, no mater how silly the dialogue ("The wheels on the bus go BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!"). Maybe its because Teller is an actor first, and not a dancer, or maybe its good old fashioned "It" is unclear, but he grabs you.
This is to take nothing away from Wormald or Hough. Brewer was right to cast dancers who can act as opposed to the other way around (as in the original), thus sparing himself the awkward cut-always and clunky edits required to shoot around dance doubles. It's a testament to Wormald's star power that he manages to hold onto his looks even while sporting the skinny ties and spiky hair that Bacon brought to the role, and makes an impassioned plea for the Biblical mandate to dance without making a boob of himself.
What happened to all those signatures Ren collected? Why is Rev. Moore so considered about Ren, but oblivious to Charlie? How is it that Bomont's kids have such good moves? Who cares—It's "Footloose"