While fans of the original version may be disappointed by this update and find it lacking, a new generation of Footloose fans may have just been born.
Hollywood is all about remakes these days and Footloose made it to the top of the list before plopping down on audiences. This remake of the 1984 cult-classic musical gives audiences their favorite characters in an updated manner but seems to struggle making it all the way to 2012. All the basics from the original including the iconic red cowboy boots and the faded yellow bug are still there, but they may have hindered the progress of an update. On top of that, the character development seems to be missing the chemistry that existed the first time around.
As a remake, the classic story is still in place. The town of Bomont outlaws anything they think could be destructive to the minds of impressionable teenagers – dancing, music, certain books – and sets a curfew after five teens are killed in a drinking and driving accident coming home from a dance. The teenagers in this town have had enough of these restrictions when city kid Ren (Kenny Wormald) moves into town and shakes things up. With the help of the preacher’s daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough), things get out of hand until the teenagers band together and petition to overturn these restrictions – standing up for their rights and going against the governing body.
Julianne Hough makes takes on her first lead role with the film and comes out pretty strong, considering the material. As a performer, she naturally embodies the character Ariel and she portrays the rebellious teen with ease, fully adding to the visual dynamic of scenes.
Hough is opposite another newcomer, Kenny Wormald who plays Ren MacCormack. This is the first role of note for Wormald who has a lot to offer but doesn’t quite capture what Kevin Bacon previously established. With such a well-known role it was a risky move to cast someone that is virtually unknown, and it might not have been a risk that paid off in the long run. A better known actor may have done the role more justice, as well as attracted more attention to the project.
The town preacher still pretty much runs the town and remains a force in the structure of the film. Dennis Quaid steps in to play the role this time around and he does so with significant authority, really embodying the character. His harsh personality opposite Andie MacDowell‘s sweet demeanor sets the tone throughout the film adding, another layer to the plot.
A shining star on the cast is supporting actor Miles Teller who plays Willard. Teller is another unknown, but he brings a level of innocence to the role that is refreshing. He definitely stands out in the cast of newbies and gives audiences a performance on par with the ones from long-time actors Quaid and MacDowell.
Overall, while the performances were decent, the success of the original film looming over it set a precedent that most of the actors couldn’t live up to. Maybe if this film was an original as opposed to a remake it would have been able to grasp your attention better but as it stands, it falls a bit short and doesn’t manage to completely capture your attention for the full run time.
That being said, parts of the film do work, including the iconic scene when Ren, Ariel, Willard, and Rusty head over to another county to drink and dance and it becomes 1984 all over again. Ziah Colon, who plays Rusty, doesn’t hold a torch to Sarah Jessica Parker but the scene still works. The energy level is through the roof and it gives the film a little extra something.
In the end though, the film just can’t match what the original did. It’s a fine film and should provide some decent entertainment, but fans of its predecessor likely won’t be fully pleased.
On the technical side of things, the film released by Paramount Home Entertainment comes in a 2-Disc package with both Blu-Ray and DVD, and a digital ultraviolet copy. The Blu-Ray is presented in 1080p high definition with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio in English and 5.1 Dolby Digital in French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The picture quality is good, but the film itself seems overlayed with a very overcast feel. The colors are often muted with the exception of the car crash shown in the opening sequence, which sets everything in motion and the bar dancing scene that serves as a pivotal transition in the film. There are moments where the screen seems brighter than others, but for the most part the lighting choices are questionable. Finally, the environment is full of vibrant scenery and for some reason that is not showcased, or at least doesn’t come across on the Blu-Ray.
Of course, the sound is important for a film like this and the Blu-Ray transfer hits all the right notes. Music is crisp and clear and fills the room when it comes on. It never drowns out dialogue and for the most part, always takes full advantage of the surrounds. Atmospherics and other effects sound appropriate as well and a few minor errors aside, this disc excels in the audio department.
As for special features, here’s what the Blu-Ray has to offer:
- Jump Back: Re-Imagining Footloose - A combination of video montage, interviews, and voice-overs the cast and crew take you through the process of updating a film originally developed in the 1980s and bringing it into contemporary terms.
- Everybody Cut: The Stars of Footloose - From the director to stars they react the new version of the film and their experiences both in front of and behind the scenes. It serves as a behind-the-scenes documentary for viewers interested in the making of the film itself.
- Dancing with the Footloose Stars – This section is about the dancing that was involved in the film and focuses mainly on the larger dancing scenes.
- Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by director Craig Brewer - The deleted scenes don’t add much to further your curiosity but they are amusing - some more than others.
- “Footloose” Music Video by Blake Shelton
- “Fake ID” Music Video by Big & Rich
- “Holding Out For A Hero” Music Video by Ella Mae Bowen - Best out of the three music videos.
- Footloose Rap - They could have left this one out, this extra didn’t add anything to the film.
All in all, while the film itself leaves something to be desired, the overall package isn’t that bad. Fans of the original will be harder to please than newcomers but just about everyone should find something to like with this remake, despite it being a ways off from perfect. If you’ve never seen the original and like music films, give this one a chance. But, if you hold the Kevin Bacon classic near and dear to your heart, be warned, this may not live up to expectations.