October 20, 2011

Review: Cut Loose – 'Footloose' Remakes Itself

I was shocked and intrigued when I heard exploitation filmmaker Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan) was taking over the reigns of this 1984 remake. I think Brewer is a very interesting, talented director. He has a mastery over the intersection of music and cinema. Luckily, he brought these qualities to Footloose.

I have never seen the original Footloose in full and came to this version relatively fresh. From what I can recall, the original was hardly an endearing classic. It always felt hokey and dated. From what I've seen and remember, the original looks and feels very much of its time. The remake currently actually has a better consensus critical reception over the original.

Actor/dancer Kenny Wormald is a worthy lead, taking over from Kevin Bacon's star-making endeavour. His hair is perfectly coiffed hair and has precocious Boston accent. He sizzles on the dance floor with a decent screen presence. I loved how he strolled into town causing trouble straight off the bus with his trademark Ray Ban's in tow ready to dance up a storm.

Dennis Quaid absolutely chews the scenery with his hammy acting as the town's preacher. The rest of the cast including female lead, singer/dancer/actress Julianne Hough (Dancing with the Stars), does the trick ,balancing dance with teenage humour and light melodrama.

Brewer actually takes the amusing and wildly ludicrous premise of outlawing dance (loosely inspired by an actual event) into a pretty compelling storyline wrapped around the struggles of teenage rebellion against oppressive town forces. Keeping in mind the genres of teen and dance films, I really enjoyed Footloose's filmmaking qualities with its sense of fun conveyed well by Brewer's storytelling. There's just the right amount of camp injected along with fun situations, dance battles, and general cinematic hijinx.

There are plenty of 1980s cliches and hallmarks including archetypical characters and, oh boy, tons of extended montages, but they are all mostly fun and executed in interesting ways. The choreography and direction are sharp, overcoming the predictable plot and minimal character development. If anything about Footloose looks interesting to you, you'll probably enjoy it. It's certainly worth seeing and a whole lot of fun. So cut loose.

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