Legalism, Dancing Clash in Footloose Remake
- Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2011 10 Oct
DVD Release Date: March 6, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: October 14, 2011
Rating: PG-13 (for some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence and language)
Run Time: 113 min.
Director: Craig Brewer
Actors: Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell, Miles Teller, Ray McKinnon, Patrick John Flueger, Kim Dickens, Brett Rice, Patrick John Flueger
Employing the whole “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, the remake of Footloose is basically the same movie that any child of the ‘80s either remembers with a nostalgic fondness or conveniently blocks out like memories of bad perms and acid-washed jeans.
Really, the only discernable difference between past and present is a change of venue (think sleepy southern town instead of the Midwest) and the absence of Kevin Bacon, who apparently couldn’t even be bothered to make the requisite cameo.
Anchored by that cheesy, toe-tapping title song that gets stuck in your head whether you want it to or not, Footloose is still a born crowd-pleaser nearly thirty years later, especially when everybody’s dancing. And thanks to the casting of Dancing with the Stars alum Julianne Hough and Justin Timberlake’s former backup dancer Kenny Wormald, those high-energy sequences, including the iconic moment where our leading man works through his angst by what else—shaking his booty—are so much fun to watch.
What does get a little lost in translation, however, is the rest of the story. In the opening scene, we see four high school kids, including Rev. Shaw Moore’s (Dennis Quaid, Soul Surfer) son, Bobby, essentially joy-ride to their death. Naturally, in any small town, losing four students on the verge of graduation would serve as a major wake-up call. That said, it’s a little far-fetched to believe that an ordinance against loud music and dancing would ever fly in modern times.
In fact, a pretty sizable suspension of belief is required for most of Footloose. For one, it’s assumed that everyone in darling little Bomont is so grief-stricken they’ll go along with anything—even letting town officials basically serve as their overbearing parents. Secondly, it’s a little strange (and a rather convenient plot twist) that none of the adults seem to have much of a problem with these new rules. Or at least they don’t speak up if they do.
So with no authority figures taking a stand for personal freedom, the teens are left with the charge to break the rules, something they have no problem with, especially Rev. Moore’s own wayward daughter, Ariel (Hough), who’s looking for cheap thrills wherever she can find them.
Also shaking things up considerably is the town’s newest resident Ren MacCormack (Wormald). After losing his mother to leukemia, the Boston native moves in with his aunt (Kim Dickens, The Blind Side) and uncle (Ray McKinnon, Dolphin Tale) and quickly becomes the bane of Rev. Moore’s existence because he believes Ren is pursuing his daughter when really, it’s the other way around.
Far more disturbing than Moore’s inability to get the facts straight (town gossip is his preferred “news” source, apparently) is the rampant legalism that fuels most of his sermons, not to mention the moral behavior in Bomont. See, religion—and all it’s performance-driven trappings—is what primarily fuels his faith, and his followers, the loyal townspeople, only seem to go to church because it’s the cultural thing to do.
Funny enough, only Ren and Ariel seem to notice the disconnect, yet another instance where the teens are clearly more in touch with reality than their adult counterparts. But let’s face it, most people buying a ticket won’t even care about all these inconsistencies. It’s all about the dancing, after all, which is exactly why a new generation of fans will probably enjoy cutting loose with Footloose—even if the story is chock full of caricatures.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Underage drinking contributes to a fatal car accident. Teenagers are shown drinking beer. A student smokes pot and asks Ren if he’d like to. Ren refuses, but is caught holding the joint anyway.
- Language/Profanity/Humor: Profanity including as-, as-h---, son of a bit--, sh--, da--, he—throughout, plus instances where God’s name is used in vain. A couple of expletives are uttered in the church building, but Ariel later apologizes for doing so. Some sexually explicit humor and double entendres.
- Sex/Nudity: Ariel, the rebellious pastor’s daughter tends to wear tight, skimpy clothing. She’s also sleeping with her troublemaker boyfriend Chuck (TV actor Patrick John Flueger), even though he doesn’t treat her particularly well (we see her unbutton her shirt and close the door when Chuck taunts her about being a little girl rather than a real woman). Ariel strips down to her bra in one scene. Some mention of female and male anatomy and your typical high school talk about “hot” members of the opposite sex and “getting busy.”
- Violence: A jarring collision between a car and a semi is shown (all four teenagers die) and referenced several times. There are also a couple of fight scenes between Chuck and Ren and their respective friends where a few punches are thrown. Willard gets in a fight with a guy who’s trying to steal his girlfriend. In a fit of anger, Reverend Moore slaps his daughter across the face.
Religion: In Bomont, religion and legalism go hand in hand. There’s little actual talk of God, just about being a “good” person and following the rules. Led by Rev. Moore, church services are a regular part of life in Bomont (the whole town is basically in attendance), but one immediately gets the feeling that everyone attends simply because it’s expected. Bible verses are used to defend dancing, which has been banned in Bomont.
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in Dallas, Texas, she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.