“Footloose” is a remake of the 1984 musical about a city boy, played by the young Kevin Bacon, who comes to a small southern town and, literally, shakes things up. That earlier movie, which is now rather erroneously being referred to in the promotional material as a “classic,” was studded with soon-to-be Top Ten Hits and had a youth-pandering storyline: Because of a fatal accident that killed five teenagers after a night partying, the town council of a small southern community, led by a fire-breathing preacher, outlaws teen dancing.
This same premise holds for the remake, and it seems more pandering (and dated) than ever. Once again, Ren MacCormack (newcomer Kenny Wormald) is the good-hearted misfit who just wants kids to be able to have fun before they morph into old-fogy adults. Dennis Quaid, in the John Lithgow role, is Rev. Shaw Moore, and he’s actually somewhat of an improvement. Lithgow seemed to actually breathe fire whereas Quaid seems less demented, more down to earth. He’s riven without being bug-eyed.
The preacher’s troubled daughter is played by “Dancing With the Stars” phenomenon Julianne Hough, and it would have been better if her role had showcased more dancing and less acting. Co-writer and director Craig Brewer, working with the original’s screenwriter Dean Pitchford and producing team, can’t seem to work up a filmmaking rhythm. The dancing numbers, which are so tame you wonder what all the heavy-breathing was about, are awkwardly shoehorned into the melodrama. Ren, as in the original, even gets to deliver a speech to the town council citing various passages in the Bible where dance is celebrated. He’s a pretty crafty guy even though the movie makes him out to be as pure as the driven snow. Grade: C (Rated PG-13 for some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence, and language.)