I have to admit that I missed seeing the starring role of the Lehi Roller Mills in the 2011 remake of "Footloose." But other than that, this rendition is better, in many ways, than the 1984 original.
Most are familiar with the basic story line; a city kid, Ren, experiences personal tragedy and ends up in the care of his uncle and aunt in a small town where restrictive laws banning dancing, and much more, have been put into effect. Why? The actions were taken in the aftermath of a terrible crash that took the lives of five high school kids driving home from a dance.
Kenny Wormald steps into Kevin Bacon's old role as Ren and immediately begins to shake things up. Basically, he's a good kid but just doesn't understand all the restrictions.
Julianne Hough is simply dazzling as Ariel, the daughter of the local preacher. Hough has elevated the role to heights never dreamed of back in '84 when Lori Singer delivered an Ariel that proved to be the weakest link in the film. When the sparks begin to fly between Ren and Ariel, the screen simply catches fire.
Things get really complicated because, of course, it's Rev. Moore, dear old dad (played by Dennis Quaid), who is primarily responsible for the harsh laws after he lost his son in the infamous crash. He isn't happy about the budding relationship.
Determined to do something, Ren asks for time at a city council meeting where he makes his case, using scriptures supplied by Ariel, for easing the restrictions and allowing a high school dance. Even though he's gaining more and more sympathy, the vote goes against him.
Ren has a part-time job out at the old cotton gin and his boss suggests he utilize the place for the dance since it's outside the city limits and not subject to the laws. While the cotton gin is cool, this is where I pine for the memorable, superb performance of the old Lehi Roller Mills. I know … get over it, Doug.
Key moments in the story are brought up to date without losing the original feel, and key characters pay respect but claim their own turf. I absolutely love the relationship that develops between Ren and his uncle, played by Ray McKinnon. The scene where they discuss the town's Sunday beer law is priceless.
And then there's Willard, originally played by Chris Penn. This time it's Miles Teller and he really comes through.
And, I haven't even mentioned the fabulous dancing and creative choreography. But what really makes the 2011 version of "Footloose" cut loose is Hough and Wormald.
Now, don't get me wrong. I loved the 1984 film, but in some ways, this film is even better, and that's primarily because of Julianne Hough. I'm giving "Footloose" 3 ½ stars.
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