We think it’s safe to say that everyone was a little sceptical when they heard the original 1984 classic film ‘Footloose’ was being remade. How could the naff, iconic dance moves of Kevin Bacon be replicated today, with or without the irony? And how could the film’s now outdated premise – a town that outlaws dancing – be presented as credible? When it was announced that Zac Efron would be taking over Bacon’s iconic role as Ren McCormack, it seemed that this titbit of cheese was a guarantee for the coveted ‘Dukes Of Hazzard’ Prize in The Remake Hall of Failure. But then Efron pulled out, claiming he wanted to distance himself from musicals, which was nothing short of a blessing for the producers of the Footloose remake.
This allowed for the little known Kenny Wormwald to strut his stuff – and can we just say, he can dance, like, really really dance. Wormwald is 26 – the same age Bacon was when he was in the original. This isn’t the only coincidence. Watching Wormwald dance feels like watching the apprentice of Bacon himself. If it was announced today Bacon had a missing 26-year-old illegitimate son, we would guess that purely based on his awesome dance ability, it was Wormwald. Yet the young actor brings his own finesse to the film. His friendly face and believable gestures making him notable in his own right in the role.
What also really helps the film is the return of original writer, Dean Pitchford, who stated that he wanted to remain true to the original spirit of the flick while making it accessible for today’s audience. Overall he’s done a pretty good job. We can see the youngins’ appreciating this on a High School Musical level, but adults appreciating it on a Moulin Rouge one.
The music of the film is a mix of pop, country, rock and hip-hop. There was pre-production talk that the famous headlining theme song be cut from the film but alas it is intact, albeit with more of a country music makeover.
As for the dance sequences on-screen, the clever thing is, in this flick they’re all explained – as in there’s no unexplained instances where everyone seemingly just happens to break into song and dance. No offence to the producers of the modern version of Hairspray but a little realism wouldn’t have gone astray. Only in John Waters’ original Hairspray does the camp bout of sudden song-and-dance truly otherwise work.
Overall this reinstalment of Footloose holds up rather well. It’s believable, funny, and manages to come across as heartfelt without being too corny. We cannot comprehend, though, how the teenagers of a tiny country town are able to dance like professionals at the drop of a hat. Oh well, it’s still a musical after all…
‘Footloose’ is available on DVD and Blu-ray through Paramount Home Entertainment.