Movie Review: “Footloose (2011)”

Published by Clay Cane on Friday, October 14, 2011 at 12:00 am.

Summary: A city boy named McCormack (Kenny Wormald) is shocked when he moves to a small town and discovers dancing has been banned due to a tragic accident. The antsy teens dance in secret until McCormack challenges the small town to make dancing legal.

Review: My first thought walking out of Footloose was, “I never want to dance again!”  If there was ever a movie not to remake, it would be Footloose. One, the film’s premise is ridiculously dated — no town in America would outlaw dancing — even if the Tea Party were behind it.  If “Dancing is a sin!” legislation were possible, it wouldn’t make for a good plot in 2011.

Two, dance flicks, unlike 1984, when the original Footloose was released, have flooded movie theaters for years. From Take the Lead to Step Up to Stomp the Yard, some good, and some bad, dance movies are now parodies: normally campy, weak on story and a “bust” at the box office.

Three, who cares about two hours of shaking what your momma gave you when we’ve had music videos for 30 years? When Footloose was released, music video channels weren’t all the rage that they eventually came to be. Beyoncé, Usher or Lady Gaga’s choreography is what the kids of today are mimicking. Not popping, dipping and spinning from actors in their twenties playing teens.

Directed by the man who was behind Hustle & Flow, Craig Brewer, Footloose had its struggles from the start. It was once supposed to be directed by Kenny Ortega, but he left and the script went through various incarnations once Brewer signed on. Zac Effron was the original star, but he bailed, and newcomer Kenny Wormald landed the lead role as McCormack. These production issues might be why the flick felt like a muddier version of the original. At times, the remake was similar to 1984 right down to the dialogue. Then, a random scene popped in, or tokens of diversity appeared, to make the film seem ”relevant.”

Wormald is a talented young man, but I doubt Footloose will have the impact it did for the original male lead, Kevin Bacon. The choreography was at times embarrassing and failed to highlight the skills we have seen from Wormald when he was on the reality show, Dancelife.

The female lead is Julianne Hough, also known as Ryan Seacrest’s girlfriend. Consistently shaking in daisy dukes, Hough is regulated to random gyrations and stripper-like moves. Again, this must be the stretch to be “modern.”

Another odd piece to Footloose is the stamp of diversity. There are random Black actors who exist for casual urban slang.  However, I do hope Footloose helps the newcomers like Ser’Darius Blain and Enisha Brewster get a chance at more work.  Outside of the actors, there are the odd racial overtones. An older Black character works at a cotton gin (huh?), racial jokes like “The rap music people!” and “Country line dancing is a white man’s wet dream,” were uncomfortable, especially with the setting being a small town in Georgia. Clearly a harmless stretch to be diverse, but it wasn’t authentic.

Footloose clocked in at just under a tedious two hours. The prancing feet, flailing arms, hip thrusts and bland script made me wish boogieing was outlawed across America so Hollywood would stop giving dance movies  the green light.

Footloose is in theaters today.

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