Footloose


If you're willing go with 'Footloose', it's probably the best dance movie around. Beyond the stifling genre conventions in which it operates, there is something quite irresistible about the carefree direction and wholehearted performances.

The hype...

A remake that has seen more casting changes than any recent film we care to remember, 'Footloose' seeks to recapture the lasting appeal of the Kevin Bacon original of the same name. There are some iconic moments that fans will hope to see again, but the story will need to be updated to appeal to a new audience.

The story...
Following a tragic accident, Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) leads the small town of Bomont in banning the evils of Rock 'N' Roll. The youngsters of the town are prohibited from public displays of dancing, and The Reverend is determined to keep it that way.

A few years later, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves from Boston to live with his uncle and aunt after his mother dies. Stunned by the laws of Bomont, Ren sets about upsetting the establishment. He soon finds a kindred spirit in the form of Ariel (Julianna Hough) as well as an ally in Willard (Miles Teller).

Ariel is doing everything she can to rebel against her father, who just happens to be Rev. Moore, and her blossoming relationship with Ren is sure to cause even more disruption amongst the locals.

The breakdown...

The remake of the 1984 Kevin Bacon vehicle has been mooted for some time now. Zac Efron was once the only name attached to the project, but after he dropped out we went through a series of TV stars, none of whom stuck around for any length of time. Eventually unknown dancer Kenny Wormald got the gig, and he does a great job in the lead role.

This version of 'Footloose' is more of a dance movie than the original, and so having someone who is naturally gifted in that department makes for a great twist. Efron would certainly have struggled with some of these full-on routines.

The rest of the cast are equally perfectly-pitched. Dennis Quaid makes for a likeable figurehead, his motivation is totally believable and he also has the gravitas required for the dramatic scenes. Playing his daughter, Julianna Hough impresses in the 'shouting matches' we expect, but also in the energetic and highly choreographed dance scenes.

Wormald and his screen buddy Miles Teller are wonderfully portrayed, their chemistry makes things tick along nicely. Bacon and Chris Penn had a more functional relationship, whereas here there is a sense of camaraderie that leaps off the screen.

Don't be too put off if you are a fan of the original film though, there are plenty of neat touches and nods to the past that will keep you entertained. It's just that the story has been updated and the cinematic appeal of the film made more relevant.

Various types of dance from frenetic crunking to laid-back country routines all get a fair outing, with the montage/training sequence involving Teller as a clumsy Willard standing out.
 
It's a bit too long and could have ended up a distasteful mess, but thanks to some deft direction and breezy performances 'Footloose' version 2.0 is a success. A necessary update that will have you eager to get up out of your seat and join in.

The verdict...
There is great reward for the risks taken in this updated version of a cult classic. Its modernised twist on a very '80s story shows how it should be done, and we challenge you to keep your toes from tapping throughout this fun movie.

Rating: 4/5


'Footloose' is due to be released in the UK on 14 October. Certificate: 12A