Fortunately, Kenny Wormald, who portrays Ren, exudes attitude and physicality in a role previously played to perfection by Kevin Bacon. Watching Wormald perform one highly strenuous solo in this dramatic remake should convince moviegoers that he was an excellent choice to bring Ren to life on screen during a new era. However, like the original Footloose, there’s not enough dancing here.
“You always want more dancing – and not only in Footloose,” my daughter reminded me as we left the multiplex. She’s right, of course. And I did enjoy the numbers included in this version very much, especially the spirited dancing to the film’s infectious title song.
After finding out the small town he’s now living in bans loud music and dancing for citizens under 18, high school student Ren MacCormack decides to try and change things. With the help of fellow students as well as some family members and friends, he organizes a petition drive and makes plans to present his cause to the town council. Ren’s major obstacle involves an influential Reverend (Dennis Quaid), who is the father of Ariel (Julianne Hough), a troubled teen Ren has fallen hard for – perhaps because she’s also a fantastic dancer. Seriously, Wormald (You Got Served) and Hough (Burlesque) look terrific in their sexy “get-acquainted” routine, which my husband insists should be banned. (I suspect he’s just jealous.)
The film’s most dramatic moment comes when Ren addresses the council members. Using quotes from the Bible to back up his argument, the rebellious high school student makes his points with passion and conviction. But will he change any hearts and minds?
Directed with considerable care by Craig Brewer (Hustle and Flow), this Footloose – co-written by Brewer and Dean Pitchford, who also penned the 1984 version -- remains true to the original while adding more edge and spice to the story. Most supporting cast members deliver strong, believable performances. Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole) almost steals the movie as Willard, Ren’s amusing best friend. His learning- how-to-dance sequence ends up as the most delightful one in the film. Ray McKinnon (The Blind Side) is perfect as Ren’s supportive uncle; and Patrick John Flueger (Brothers) oozes malice as Ren’s rival for Ariel.
Footloose serves as a reminder that when we try to protect our children, sometimes we can go too far. Banning dancing is definitely one of those times.
Dance is the hidden language of the soul. --- Martha Graham
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “PG-13” for some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence and language.)