FOOTLOOSE ★★1/2 Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid; PG-13 for some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence and language; in general release
Time machines are so overrated. Scientists shouldn’t waste their time on trying to go back in time. Hollywood already has cornered the market on that. For instance, just step into the theater and you can find yourself back in 1984 with Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer dancing away.
Wait a minute, that’s not Kevin Bacon, and this is not the 1984 version of "Footloose." However, this new take on the film does pay homage to the icon of ’80s teenage films. Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves to the small town of Bomont, which has banned dancing within the town limits by teenagers.
The Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) and the other city council members thought it was a good idea after five kids were killed in an accident driving home from a party. One of those just happened to be the reverend’s son. They also enacted a curfew and an ordinance against loud music.
Ren is happy to find that the reverend’s daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough), is more than willing to dance the night away. But there is the problem of her boyfriend, a much older boyfriend. He really knows how to treat a lady, especially when he’s racing at his daddy’s track.
As he is trying to make sense of this town, Ren finds a friend in Willard (Miles Teller). Willard helps Ren understand the different people in town, and Ren helps Willard learn to dance.
If you’ve seen the first "Footloose," you know how this all ends up. This "Footloose" is a bit different; school bus racing takes the place of playing chicken on tractors. Ren also does not have any parents in this version; he is taken in by his aunt and uncle.
For all the differences though, this film does pay tribute to the original. Little things all through the film remind you of the original, like the tractor and the solo dance scene. There are songs from the original as well, but they are done differently and kind of tossed off to the side.
The filmmakers wanted to make this a modern version of the film so there is hip hop, rock and country all rolled into this film. Plus the dancing has been updated, and that’s the real star of this film. This film is gimmicky and a bit cheesy; Ren drives the same kind of car as the first movie and gets into the same sort of trouble in this film, but it is enjoyable. You may just find your toe tapping during some of the dance numbers.
Parents may want to watch out for a few things in this film. Ariel likes to dress in some skimpy outfits in this film. She and her boyfriend are alone in his trailer when she tells him to shut the door. Profanity can be found in this film, but it’s not that memorable. There is some teenage drinking and drug use at the beginning of the film. You will see some violence during a couple of fight scenes, one in what seems to be a bar.
This is a timeless story, so it is not surprising that it is being redone. But in redoing the story, the filmmakers expose themselves to comparison of the original. In that light, this film does seem to make the grade. For today’s audiences, this film could be just as good as the original.
The big thing in the ’80s, though, was the music, and this new film’s soundtrack doesn’t keep up with the original. Luckily all we have to do now is go download the songs from the original and we get to dance the night away once more. Of course we also have to deal with old knees and backs now. Where are the aspirin and the glucosamine?
Shawn O'Neill is the Family Man Movie Reviewer on BYU Radio. His reviews can be heard on BYURadio.org and on SiriusXM Channel 143.