Kevin Bacon became a star with the 1984 dance movie, “Footloose” and now, because it’s that good,Paramount has remade it starring Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough, directed by Craig Brewer (“Hustle and Flow”). You would be forgiven if you expected “Footloose” to be unwatchable, but shockingly it is an adequate, if mindless, movie for teenagers.
Wormald plays Ren McCormack, a transplant fromBostonto the sleepy southern town ofBomontafter the death of his mother. An outsider, McCormack is astonished to discover that, due to the drunk-driving death of four teenagers years ago, Bomont has a no-dancing policy.
But McCormack’s just got to dance, and dance he does, taking it to secret parties and honkytonks outside the town limits. Joining him is high school hottie, Ariel Moore (Hough), the preacher’s daughter, who’s had enough of long-time boyfriend, Chuck, (Patrick John Flueger) who just doesn’t know how to treat a girl.
Meanwhile, her father, Reverend Moore (Randy Quaid) doesn’t care much for the new kid in town, and God forbid he should be sniffing around his daughter!
It’s a moronic and simple premise that worked back in 1984 and still works today, and Brewer hits all the notes he needs to satisfy his target audience. Strangely, he cast his movie with an eye toward dancers although there isn’t much dance in “Footloose.”
Kenny Wormald (“Center Stage”) is an affable presence with limited acting skills centered on a half-baked Johnny Depp impersonation. McCormack is no Depp, of course, but that hardly matters as he effortlessly anchors the movie, exhibiting enough charisma to outshine the local boys, and enough warmth to woo the girls.
Julianne Hough has built a lackluster career as a dancer in movies like “Burlesque” and TV’s short-lived game show, “Show Me the Money.” She is a pretty blond the likes of which you can’t swing a cat in Los Angeles without hitting. Here, she displays a warm, ineffectual blandness that doesn’t help “Footloose,” but certainly doesn’t hurt it.
Dennis Quaid collects a paycheck as a one-dimensional man of the cloth who finally learns to yield. And Miles Teller is an unexpected source of comedy as McCormack’s new best friend, Willard, a nerd with attitude and an eye for the ladies.
For those who grew up on the original “Footloose,” you can do a lot worse than the remake, a movie with dance, romance and rebellion on its mind – three themes that never go out of style.
*** (out of four)