Friday, January 27, 2012

Review: Footloose (2011)

There are some movies that should never be re-made; Godfather, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark – movies that through a confluence of great casting, directing, and cinematography have produced truly iconic cinematic experiences.  Then there are those that should never be given a second look for an entirely different set of reasons – Date Movie, Hudson Hawk, and anything by Adam Sandler post Spanglish.

Then there’s Footloose, a movie that was an immediate classic in its time, but because of its dated music and dance has not really aged well.  Worse still is that its premise – breaking a small town ban on dancing – does not translate well to the present day.  And yet somehow, an updated version of this movie made its way into cinemas in 2011 and - even worse - found its way onto my red-eye flight from Los Angeles to New York City.

The movie plays like Step Up meets Friday Night Lights as over wrought dancing collides with teen angst in the fictional small town of Bomont, Georgia.  A forray into the deep south was inevitable as Footloose’s predecessors in the teen dance genre (Save the Last Dance, Take the Lead, etc.) had exhausted the urban backdrop.  So what else is wrong with the film besides the antiquated notion of a ban on public dancing, the hammed up southern drawls, and the uncompelling melodrama and rebellion found at every turn?  The fact that none of it comes together to form an interesting narrative from start to finish.

Kenny Womald would have been merely pedestrian in the lead role as Ren MacCormack, but his weak Boston accent tips the scales towards bad. Julianne Hough is at her best when she is dancing, but lacks any kind of charisma as an actual actress, making one wonder if it was a wise career choice to leave Dancing with the Stars. Dennis Quaid’s Reverend Shaw Moore is cantankerous enough and Andie MacDowell does little to distinguish herself as Moore’s wife.  The requisite gaggle of friends played by Miles Teller, Ser’Darius Blain, and Ziah Colon add a bit of life to the proceedings, but do not get enough to work with to really make a difference.

When I first saw this trailer, I thought that Footloose was a movie to be avoided like the plague.  A bout of insomnia on a cross-country flight has helped to reassure me that my first inclination was right.  If it is a mix of dance and drama that you crave, watch the original, wax poetic about an era long since passed, and then play a rousing game of 6-Degrees-of-Kevin Bacon

Standout Performance:  Miles Teller’s Willard injects a bit of comic relief to the otherwise melodramatic proceedings.


  1. I don't think you watched the same movie I did, because I loved the new Footloose! Saw it 4 times at the theater. Kenny, Julianne, Miles, Dennis, Ziah, & Andy did wonderful jobs. Especially loved Julianne & Miles. The people in the theaters I went to were nearlly dancing in the isles and cheering they loved it. I am a 64 yr old grandmother who lives in Texas & loved the original movie, but I think the new one is better, more exciting. This movie was in no way boring. Julianne is going to be an actress to watch, she is a shining star on the rise.