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"Footloose (2011)" Review

Have you seen Footloose, the 1984 kids-gotta-dance movie starring Kevin Bacon? Sure you have. After some hayseed Southern town suffers a tragic auto accident that kills several high-schoolers, the town - at the urging of Rev. John Lithgow - bans dancing. In comes Bacon from out of town where he can't believe the yokels are so backwards, but he makes friends with Chris "Sean's brother, sorta like Jim Belushi" Penn and attracts the eye of Rev. Lithgow's wild rebellious daughter, Lori Singer. After several iconic Eighties pop tunes and montages, Bacon restores dancing to Yokelslavia and everyone buys the soundtrack cassette. The end.

Well, replace Lithgow with Dennis Quaid; Singer with some girl who looks a little like Jennifer Aniston and has really blue eyes; Penn with a hillbilly John Cusack; the friend played by Secretariat Jessica Parker with a black girl; and Bacon with a discount store Skeet Ulrich (himself a discount Johnny Depp); and toss in some modern country and Dirrrty South hip-hop and you've got the new - strike that - you've got the utterly recycled and unnecessary Footloose (2011 Edition). I'm not sure what co-writer and director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow; Black Snake Moan) was trying to accomplish other than make a "green" movie because just about everything is recycled from the original.

Not only is the plot almost beat-for-beat ripped off (relive the Bible quotations scene again!), but they use Kenny Loggins' title tune (twice) and Deniece Williams' "Let's Hear It For The Boy" during the training-the-hayseed-to-dance scene. Just as there's a fine line between clever and stupid, the line between homage and laziness isn't blurred into irrelevance. (See below.) Really early on, I was bored and with a few exceptions, I never thought I was getting much out of this other than delaying getting home to do my laundry.

There is just no need for this movie to be remade now or ever. I saw it a quarter-century ago and haven't given it another thought since. It's not poorly made - the cast is OK and the stereotyping is kept under control - but other than showing the near-Utopian racial harmony (break dancing and boot scooting co-exist, though how in a town where dancing has been banned do they get the mad skillz to compete in a Step Up movie is a mystery), there's just nothing new here. It's just all so....unneeded.

I heard a young boy, perhaps 12, in the theater hall afterwards exclaiming that "it was awesome," so perhaps I'm just being an old fuddy duddy, but it's more likely that having been there and seen it the first time around, I don't need this lazy nostalgia trip.

Score: 4/10. Catch it on cable if you've never seen the original before.

The feedback loop of the original and its place in the cultural timeline can be summed up by this video. The first half is the scene in the original where a frustrated Bacon blows off steam in an abandoned factory. (I'd forgotten the car; Skeet Jr. drives the same VW in the remake. More laziness.) What made me smirk during the movie tonight was the second half, from Hot Rod where Andy Samberg "punch-dances out his anger." The new Footloose unironically apes the first one's scene (this time with a greasy White Stripes tune), but after it's already become a punchline.


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