This week sees 1984 musical drama Footlose return to the big screen, in a brand new adaptation. Directed by Craig Brewer, this modern remake features the dancing talents of newcomers Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough alongside well-known stars Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell.
As fans of the original will notice, the story has stayed pretty much the same, seeing shy but charming teenager Ren McCormack (Wormald) move from the big city to the small town of Bomont after the death of his mother. Ren quickly makes new friends, but soon finds himself in trouble when he falls for the rebellious Ariel (Hough), daughter of the town’s Reverend, and breaks the council’s rule that bans loud music and dancing in Bomont. Wanting to claim back their right to express themselves, Ren, Ariel and their friends decide to challenge the town’s legislation in order to be able to organise the school’s prom and reinstate dance and music in their community.
The movie’s plot is very linear; just like in the original Footlose, it’s quite predictable and doesn’t provide any real surprises or unexpected turns in its development. However, this same predictability makes it easier for the audience to just follow the events without reflecting on the lack of real significance or logic behind the characters’ actions and feelings – which are sometimes quite over the top, and dramatically amplified in a way that almost begs for a healthy dose of suspension of disbelief.
Playing the role that once belonged to Kevin Bacon is Wormald, who – ironically for a professional dancer – shows more acting skills than dancing talent in his rendition of Ren. Hough plays the fierce Ariel with determination and passion, and definitely stands out from the rest of the cast, whose performances end up blending into one big group effort to support a quite weak, yet entertaining, story.
As appealing as they are, remakes are also daunting and risky; and those who loved the original Footlose might not be entirely pleased by this glossy and somewhat flamboyant new version.