I was itching to get out to the cineplex to see something new since it’d felt like a loooong time since last I saw something on the big screen (compared to average America, I see very few movies in theaters). I had a choice of three movies. At the top of the list was the latest re-make of the Dumas classic The Three Musketeers but because of unimpressive earnings, it was gone from my theater after two weeks (they had a lot of nerve nixing it before I saw it! *grin*), so… that narrowed it down to this title and the Christian-helmed Courageous. Needless to say, I went with Footloose because the show-time worked best for my day. Since I’ve not yet seen the “classic” 1980’s version on which this re-make was inspired by, I won’t be making comparison observations... nevertheless I do know who stars in the prior version and have heard of it. This recent theater release looked entertaining and given my recent “love affair” with movies that feature dancing I decided it was high time I saw this.
Sometimes the unthinkable happens… and sometimes people can be made stronger from that. For a small Georgia town irrespective of their “united” front the people of the community have never fully healed three years after a tragedy took five of their graduating seniors. Following in the aftermath of these changed lives the town committee, including the stanch Reverend Moore (Dennis Quaid) passes curfew laws and prohibits any public dancing unless it is at a church function or school activity with the appropriate adult chaperones present. Into these strict codes and limitations walks Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald), a big-city Boston native who knows how endless hours of heartbreak can change a person. Moving in with his uncle’s family to complete his senior year of high school, Ren is a good student and all-around decent guy but he has something of an attitude – a trait that just might buy him trouble he didn’t bargain for.
Ariel (Julianne Hough) is a good church-going girl in the public’s eye but she is really a little rebel with a stubborn streak that she hides well from her parents – she has learned the “art” of lying to them in the most convincing way, especially when it comes to her father, Shaw Moore. Dating an older race car driver who demands more from her than she is willing to give, Ariel’s behavior is often dictated by her emotional resentment and anger – and she isn’t about to befriend the new kid on the block either. The more Ren sees of the small-town Southerners, the more he begins to question the laws that were passed – and all in under the guise of protection.
Primarily I saw this for two reasons – one of which being the recommendation I had from my cousin. It was also a point of interest for me to see how pro-dancer and Dancing with the Stars alumni Julianne Hough would adjust to the Hollywood world of acting. Much to my surprise, she actually holds her own against veteran stars Quaid and Andie MacDowell. She pours a lot of emotions into a role that demands conflicting turmoil – these instances may be rare, but there are moments that require a lot of passion from the character and she does an admirable job of conveying these genuine emotions (she isn’t wooden about her acting and I was impressed). In addition to the leading man whose authentic East Coast accent is employed (plus he is also a pro-dancer), the cast also includes Miles Teller (Willard) and Ziah Collon (Rusty) as the best friend characters. Naturally, a movie where dancing is at the crux of the stories controversy, more than one scene is going to feature the spirited, elegant sport. Each number is crisp in its footwork and precisely choreographed. I was impressed with the contrasting genres of dance – and furthermore how well they actually “worked” together. One scene tackles a fun country-inspired number and features line-dancing while another is a “sexier” number where the style of dance is a more modern tempo or freestyle. (One dance is poorly out-of-place in an otherwise dazzling production; it does have a purpose – it shows one character venting frustration, but that doesn’t detract from its uselessness.) The production staff did an excellent job of mixing things up whereas the original did not (or so I am told). Unfortunately, what makes this movie such fun is also a drag on it; the fact that the world – or more specifically that the MPAA thinks that this is “appropriate” viewing for a thirteen-year-old constantly amazes me...
As entertainment goes, I loved this film. It’s peppy and happy-go-lucky yet it isn’t without heart and that is – in my humble opinion what good entertainment should inspire. It is wonderful when something can “inspire” (even if it is in the loosest sense of the word) and still be heartfelt. There are probably three scenes that stick out in my mind as making the movie worth seeing – two of them showcase dancing, one of which closes the movie and the third (which is the best of all and makes the movie worth the near two hours if nothing else does) is a sequence that teaches one character to dance. If you do not smile at the sweetness during this part of the movie, I would argue that you do not know what “wholesome entertainment” is then. Footloose threw in a surprise or two along the ride to the heart of its story making this not just another teen flick but a story worth seeing. There are actually more poignant moments than its viewing audience will give it credit for – even I got a little misty-eyed (something unusual from me) in the final moments when Ariel tells her dad that they are “dancing.” For country music fans, Blake Shelton just happens to be the voice who re-recorded the titular song – and it sounds fantastic! I liked how the characters related to one another – especially Ren’s treatment of Ariel. He saw through her charade quickly and told her right off he wouldn’t be a party to her ploy – his words make their impact and in the end his respect of her changes her. Loosely based off of true events, this isn’t a movie that I can readily suggest you see with your little sisters, but in all other respects it’s a toe-tapping good time.
(This movie is rated PG13 because… Apart from the often immodest dress [Ariel proudly flaunts her every curve and even strips off her top once], the dancing is also suggestive. Several of the numbers involve very sensual moves between the male and female partners. Elsewhere there are a handful of crudities and profanity [h*ll, da*n], and a somewhat descriptive story about two women cornering a teen in a bathroom – it turns out to be false. It’s implied and later confirmed that Ariel gives in to her boyfriend’s demands for intimate relations – prior to that as they are making out he pushes his hands up her shirt. A girl is slapped around and injured – later another man slaps her across the face. The implication of suicide is present. There is a tense head-on accident where the top of the car is seemingly “sliced” off and the car flips.)