Cody and Priscilla fight for their right to boogie with Footloose 1984 and 2011.
Interesting story about the movies Cody and I are writing about this month - Cody has always known of my love for The In Crowd, and since some people refer to it as "Hairspray with a guy", and since it shares a song with Hairspray '88 ("Shake a Tail Feather"), it was the perfect time to write about it. Feeling like we could stick to the genre for a while longer, we decided to go with two movies that are not only dance movies, but the original also has the same choreographer as The In Crowd, and the "coincidences" don't stop there*. Footloose it is...
When Elmore City, Oklahoma (population as of 2010: 697) was incorporated in 1898, it was written in the law books that public dancing was to be an illegal activity within the city limits. "No good has ever come from a dance," the law's supporters said, believing that dancing went hand-in-hand with booze and impure thoughts and actions. For decades, Elmore City stuck with this "no dancing" policy. Then in January of 1980, the students of the local high school brought a request to the five person school board: they wanted to have a prom. A town meeting was held, the issue was debated, and although some residents feared that Elmore City would see a surge in teen pregnancies if the kids were allowed to have a dance, the school board approved the request with a 3 to 2 vote.
In April of 1980, the Elmore City high school held its first prom ever, and the event made national news.
I strongly approve of the students choosing "Stairway to Heaven" as their prom's theme and having the opening dance to that Led Zeppelin classic, my favorite song.
One person who read an article about the Elmore City dance was actor/singer/songwriter Dean Pitchford, who co-wrote three songs for the film Fame, which hit theatres in May of 1980. For creating that movie's iconic theme song, Pitchford and composer Michael Gore won an Academy Award. Having made a very successful entry into the film business, Pitchford went to work on adding a screenwriting category to his résumé, writing a script entitled Footloose, inspired by the story of Elmore City. He even travelled to Elmore City and interviewed locals as part of his research.
The studio behind Footloose, Paramount Pictures, hired veteran director and former ballet dancer/choreographer Herbert Ross to bring Pitchford's script to the screen, and filming commenced in areas around Utah County, Utah.
In addition to writing the screenplay, Pitchford also wrote or co-wrote ten of the songs that are on the film's soundtrack, including the title song, performed by Kenny Loggins.
"Footloose" and the opening credits play out over shots of the dancing feet of cast and crew members.
I remember watching the movie as a kid, and every time I did so, I'd stare at the dancing feet all looking so different, and I'd try and picture what the rest of the clothes looked like, what the people looked like. It's a great opening.
"Footloose" is a really catchy song that immediately gets you into the mood for some lively entertainment.
When the title sequence ends, we're taken into a much more somber scene: Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow) delivering an intense Sunday sermon to his parishioners about how the Lord is testing the willpower of His people by allowing obscene rock 'n roll music and pornographic books to exist on Earth. Before seguing into a hymn, Moore makes it clear that he takes his job of saving the souls of everyone who attends his church very seriously.
Among those attending church today are new arrivals in town, teenager Ren MacCormack (Kevin Bacon) and his mother Ethel, who have moved from Chicago to this small midwestern town called Bomont to live with Ethel's sister Lulu, her husband Wes, and their daughters Sarah and Amy.
How is it that Kevin Bacon looks younger in this movie than he did in Friday the 13th four years earlier?
I think it's his haircut.
Some of the teen girl churchgoers, like Sarah Jessica Parker as Rusty, are more interested in ogling Ren than whatever the Reverend is saying, but Rusty's friend/the Reverend's daughter Ariel (Lori Singer) doesn't seem so impressed by this "stunning new gentleman."
After church, Moore chats with Ethel and Ren, introducing them to Ariel and his wife Vi (Dianne Wiest). Ren and Ariel exchange simple "Hi"s and then she leaves with her friends.
The girls are driving off through the countryside when Ariel's older boyfriend Chuck Cranston (Jim Youngs) comes speeding down the road after them in his pickup truck. As he challenges the girls to a race, the Dean Pitchford/Sammy Hagar collaboration "The Girl Gets Around" kicks in on the soundtrack.
Ariel is revealed to be extremely wild and reckless. As the vehicles race down the road, she decides she wants to get in Chuck's truck... and proceeds to do so through the windows while the vehicles are still speeding alongside each other.
Having Chuck pull over so she can trade vehicles is apparently too boring for Ariel.
Ariel has a foot on Chuck's truck and a foot on her friend's car when a semi truck appears in the distance, heading for a collision with Chuck. Rather than quickly finish the vehicle transition, Ariel gets a thrill from the added danger and forces the pickup and semi to play chicken while she stands on the two vehicles, waiting until the last second to dive into the truck.
The semi driver had plenty of time to come to a stop rather than continuing to drive toward the pickup. That would have given Ariel more time to get into the truck, but this is movieland and that wouldn't have been as exciting.
Back in town, Ren is starting to realize that the people of Bomont are exceptionally puritanical. There's controversy over the high school English teacher's choice to have the students read Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-Five, a book which has often been the subject of censorship. Ren defends it as a classic, to which a concerned parent replies, "Maybe in another town it's a classic."
This mindset extends to his family. When his young cousin compliments Ren as "a fox", his uncle Wes (Arthur Rosenberg) blames it on the influence of books and television.
The little girls are really cute, it's so sweet that Amy has a crush on her big cousin.
At the teenage hangout/diner Hi-Spot, Ariel busts out a boombox and inserts what she refers to as a "smuggled tape". The song that begins playing is the Pitchford-written "Dancing in the Sheets", performed by Shalamar. No matter where they are on the Hi-Spot property or inside the building, everyone can hear the song and they start dancing to it. Kids are dancing in their cars, in the restrooms, while they're playing arcade games. Even the cook is dancing.
Then Reverend Moore shows up to make sure Ariel had some money with her and stops the music. Everyone looks busted and uncomfortable.
Something funny... it takes forever for Ariel and her friends to get to the diner. It even changes from daytime to nighttime, but the curious thing is, it doesn't seem to take her father that long to catch up to them at all. And he spent a long time talking to people and Ren's family after Ariel had left. Did he take a shortcut? Hrm.
Due to those reactions, you can bet that no other teen in Bomont would be blaring Quiet Riot's "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)" from their car stereo like Ren does when he drives into the school parking lot in his VW Bug the next day. Nor does anyone else in the school have a Sting-inspired hairdo or wear a tie like he does.
Ren bumps into country boy Willard Hewitt (Chris Penn) in the hallway, which looks like trouble because Willard has a confrontational reaction. Instead, Ren giving a minor insult back causes Willard to warm up to him and they part with a handshake.
Their first interaction is really amusing. Willard finally finds someone who talks back instead of just going for the punch, and he seems to love it.
When Ren crosses paths with Ariel in the hall, it's pretty obvious that he is intrigued by her.
Ren and Willard meet back up for lunch, during which Ren regales his new pal with slightly exaggerated tales of getting into Chicago clubs with stolen IDs and dancing with the college girls.
The faces Willard makes while Ren tells him about his big city escapades are priceless.
Ren then gets his mind blown when Willard tells him that dancing is illegal in Bomont.
Ren's response to this shocking news isn't "No way" or "Are you kidding?", it's "Jump back!" That's an '80s city slicker for ya.
Dancing was outlawed five or six years earlier when some kids got killed in a car wreck that was blamed on music, liquor, and dancing. Sinful, dirty dancing.
Willard is so out of the loop that he figures Ren must be rich to own a cassette tape (the aforementioned Quiet Riot.) The Bomont kid doesn't listen to music and hasn't even heard of current bands like Men at Work or The Police.
I almost got to see Men at Work in concert once, and I did see The Police live in 2007, so this is one of my favorite moments. "Which men? Where do they work?" "What about The Police? You heard them?" "No, but I've seen them." "In concert?" "No, behind you."
Ren's Quiet Riot tape doesn't last much longer. A pair of local cops pull him over after school for playing his music too loud, confiscate the tape, and give him a $25 fine. Uncle Wes and aunt Lulu (Lynne Marta) warn him to watch his music playing and his big city attitude, telling him such behavior could get him put on school and church probation for weeks.
That night, Reverend Moore listens to chamber music while doing some work. Ariel apologizes for what happened at the Hi-Spot, but questions him about his music. He says what he listens to is okay because it's uplifting and doesn't confuse minds and bodies. Ariel appears to want to stick up for the music she listens to, but then draws back. She also appears to want to talk to her father more, but he's too preoccupied.
At the end of a school day, Chuck stops by to pick up Ariel and decides to pick on new guy Ren a little while he's there.
I like the "I thought only pansies wore neckties," "I thought only assholes used the word pansy" exchange, a zing that shows Ren had a nicely progressive attitude for an '80s teen.
Ren's first real confrontation in Bomont is followed by a scene in which he gets a job working at a feed mill owned by Andy Beamis (Timothy Scott). While hiring him, Beamis gives Ren a bit of an unsolicited pep talk about not letting the locals get to him.
"Screw 'em. This is only one little corner of the world." It's is a really nice, unexpected moment. Beamis is one of my favorite characters.
And a very important one, whose idea culminates in the movie's climax.
While Ren is working, Ariel shows up with a message she has volunteered to deliver for Chuck: he is to meet with Chuck at the back of a field the next day at 5:30pm, and if he doesn't everyone will know he's scared. And Chuck will find him.
This moment with Ariel makes Ren even more intrigued by her and he starts asking around about her. Willard tells him she has a reputation as a hellraiser, and she's been kissed a lot.
Ariel's dad hates that she wears red cowboy boots, but those should be the least of his worries. She's doing a lot more than kissing with Chuck Cranston, sneaking off into the woods with him for sex and music. Still, Ariel and Chuck are clearly not destined to be together for long. Not only is he a jerk, but he also doesn't support her idea of leaving their small town to go to college.
Not much is heard of the song playing on the radio while the couple talks, but it's "Somebody's Eyes", performed by Karla Bonoff and co-written by Pitchford.
Ren shows up for his field appointment with Chuck and finds out that they're going to solve their differences by playing a game of chicken, driving front loader tractors at each other with a steep embankment on one side and a creek on the other. Rusty, Willard, and a guy named Woody (John Laughlin) are there to show Ren support, and to teach him how to drive a tractor, since he never has before.
It's really funny how Willard just echoes everything Woody says during the tractor lesson.
Chuck has a boombox on his tractor and pushes Play on the cassette tape in it right before Ariel starts the game of chicken by tossing her cowboy hat in the air. The song that plays as the tractors rumble toward collision is "Holding Out for a Hero", co-written by Pitchford and performed by Bonnie Tyler.
In my perception, "Holding Out for a Hero" is one of the most iconic songs of the '80s. Confession: I have a memory of exercising to this song as a very young child, wanting to live up to its description of a hero.
While I do like the song, it isn't one of my favorites. I'd pick at least 4 or 5 others from the soundtrack before I'd get to "Holding Out for a Hero".
Ren comes out the winner of the chicken game simply because when he tries to bail the shoelace of his Converse is stuck on the tractor's clutch, so Chuck is forced to be the chicken. Chuck goes into the creek and his tractor goes down the embankment.
Now Ariel is all about Ren, and she meets Rusty at the Hi-Spot, where the arcade games are being removed to protect the children from their influence, so she can be briefed with all the information her friend has on him.
There is what I assume was a mistake in this scene, and I love that the take in which it occurs was the one used for the film. While talking to Ariel, Rusty accidentally hits the basket of fries Ariel is holding. Sarah Jessica Parker just says "Whoops!", rubs her hand, and continues delivering her lines. It's very real and natural.
At school, a friend of Chuck's named Rich (Leo Geter, who was also in '84's Utah-filmed Silent Night, Deadly Night) tries to give Ren some marijuana, and does so right in front of Coach Dunbar. Claiming the joint is just tea, Ren flushes it down the toilet before the Coach can take it from him.
Word of this incident, as well as the shenanigans at the Cranston farm, gets back to Ren's uncle Wes, who gives him a bit of a talking to about all the trouble he's been getting into. When Wes acknowledges that he can't replace Ren's father, Ren storms out.
Ren goes to the feed mill, which is closed for the day, and the most famous scene in the movie plays out. Smoking, drinking, and listening to "Never" (written by Pitchford and his "Fame" collaborator Michael Gore, performed by Moving Pictures), Ren has a gymnastics-infused angry dance all through the mill.
If every kid decided to dance their anger away, there'd be less fighting and shootings, that's all I'm saying.
The dance ends when interrupted by cheers from Ariel, there to see him. Both are interested in each other and Ariel is now pursuing him, but Ren doesn't give in, put off by her behavior and the company she keeps. When she asks if he wants to kiss her, he says, "Someday." Worried he doesn't like her much because she's small town, she tells him her college plans.
For a girl with scholastic dreams, Ariel really doesn't come off as being very bright.
The point was to just get as far from Bomont as possible. I don't think she did a lot of "studying".
Ariel has Ren drive her out to a train yard, where an old, decommissioned engine has become what the Bomont kids call "The Yearbook". Four or five years earlier, they started writing quotes from banned books, songs, and magazines on its walls, as well as some original poems. Some of the poems were written by Ariel.
The girl exhibits more reckless behavior when she hears a train approaching on the track that runs beside The Yearbook. She stands right in the middle of the track, holds a hand up and screams, daring the train to hit her.
My mother is a retired train engineer, so she finds scenes like this in movies very unnerving, reminded of the stress and worry that comes with knowing someone might mess around at any point on the track and get themselves hit by the train. Don't play chicken with trains, folks. They don't stop quickly and they don't swerve.
Just seems really stupid to me, that someone would do that without wanting to get hit. But since it's so overdone in movies, I suppose it's a "thing".
The train can't stop and Ariel shows no sign of moving, so Ren has to tackle her to get her off the track. Once he has recovered from the scare, he takes her home.
Reverend Moore catches his daughter sneaking in late and questions how he can enforce a curfew on the young people in his congregation when he can't even enforce it at home. Moore and Ariel have a heated exchange, during which she says she was with Ren, the outsider troublemaker. She sticks up for Ren, but her dad doesn't want her associating with him.
Ren is the one who gets punished, kicked off the school gymnastics team. The official explanation is that the school doesn't have the funds for any more gymnasts, but it's obvious that he was really kicked off for having Ariel out late.
While joking around with Willard about how he could get revenge for this unfair treatment, an idea occurs to Ren. All it would take to turn this town upside down is a dance.
News that high school students are wanting to have a dance is soon causing waves in Bomont, with concerned citizen Roger Gurntz bringing his worries to Moore that Ren MacCormack is going to end up causing every standard of their community to be violated.
While Gurntz is ranting to her dad, Ariel is sneaking out of the house to join Ren, Willard, and Rusty on a trip across state lines to a dance club in the nearest city. Ren wants them to see what they've been missing.
Ariel, Rusty and Willard seem to be shocked, in a positive way, like they didn't know places like that existed. And the place looks like fun.
The club they go to is a place the characters from Urban Cowboy would've loved, it's just missing a mechanical bull.
Willard waits until they're inside the club before he confides in Ren that he can't dance at all, so rather than dance with Rusty he just takes a seat, telling her his feet are hurting, and drinks beer.
I didn't realize before this that Willard and Rusty were supposed to be a couple.
I was always under the impression that he wanted them to be a couple, but Rusty was hesitant, because of all the fighting he was known for.
Willard appears to be having a miserable night and Rusty can't dance without him, so they just sit and watch Ren, Ariel, and the crowd dance to "Hurts So Good" by John Cougar Mellencamp and "Waiting for a Girl Like You" by Foreigner.
I really like "Hurts So Good", and "Waiting for a Girl Like You" is one of my favorites. I love that it plays again later on in the movie.
Both songs are favorites of mine.
When Kenny Loggins' "Footloose" kicks in, Rusty can't contain herself any longer and joins Ren and Ariel on the dance floor. She was worried that Willard would get in a fight while they were out, and her worries come true when she dances with a cowboy. Willard confronts the guy and gets punched in the face for it.
Driving back to Bomont, the teens cross over Crosby Bridge, a place Willard says gives him the creeps. That's because it's the site of the accident that led to the strict laws being passed in Bomont. Two carloads of drunken teens were playing "highway tag" on the bridge, collided, and went over the edge. 53 minutes into the film, Ariel reveals that among the dead was her older brother Bobby. This is why Reverend Moore is so intense about saving his townspeople.
The next day, Reverend Moore confronts his daughter about where she was and things go south quickly. Ariel feels ignored at home, but her father wants to know everything she does when she's not at home. The argument ends with Moore slapping Ariel, the first time he's ever hit anyone in his life.
Moore and his wife Vi have a heart-to-heart after this blow-up. He feels that he's losing Ariel and has run out of things to say to her. Vi says they butt heads because they're alike, both willful and obstinate.
Going around town trying to spread word about the dance and rally support, Ren finds that the wrong person has heard about the dance. Chuck knows, and he's not happy about it. He has a trio of his friends, including Rich, attempt to rough Ren up outside a convenience store.
And they call him a worse word than pansy. Those guys are not progressive.
Luckily, Woody is there to break things up.
It's Woody who delivers some bad news to Ren: if he wants his dance to happen, he's going to have to clear it with the town council. There are seven people on the council, including Reverend Moore and Chuck's father Burlington Cranston.
This news is delivered in the school shower, where there is some gratuitous man flesh on display, the movie's only instance of nudity.
Man butt and no boobs? I love this movie!
If Ren is going to have to go through so much trouble to make a dance happen, Willard is going to have to learn to dance. "Let's Hear It for the Boy", lyrics by Pitchford, performed by Deniece Williams, kicks in on the soundtrack and plays throughout a montage of Willard receiving dancing lessons from Ren.
This is my favorite part of the movie. The song is great, and it's just such a sweet "bromance" moment, I love it. Actually, I find myself enjoying the Ren and Willard scenes more than the other scenes in Footloose. Bacon and Penn had great chemistry, I really buy them as close friends. They have some cool interactions, and this is definitely a great example.
Ariel is confronted again, this time by Chuck, who's upset that she hasn't been seeing him lately. This argument, too, becomes physical. Chuck insults her, she punches him, he backhands her. She takes a metal pipe to his truck, so he knocks her around some more. Then he leaves with one last putdown, informing her that he was "'Bout through with you anyway."
Of course I don't think it's okay that Chuck hit her, but Ariel was just so wild... completely out of control. She hit him first, and pretty hard, too. Seems to me like she had even more anger bottled up inside than what meets the eye. She goes way too far for some attention and she clearly isn't mature enough to be engaging in the type of relationship she had going with Chuck.
She was lost, and during the car and the train stunts, it looks like she wasn't about to dodge at all. She's lucky to have Ren now, as he'd be someone who'd help put some sense into her, and change her rebellious ways by loving her and being there for her.
Ren is there for her as she recovers from the fight, and she wants to give him a gift for taking on her father. A music box. After making it clear that his fight is with Bomont and not Reverend Moore, and giving advice on how to deal with her father and the loss of her brother, he accepts the gift. And then the two share their first kiss.
This part shows that Ren had integrity. It would be very easy for him to blame everything on Ariel's father and just act out of anger - he'd even have her support - but he makes sure she knows which battle he's fighting, and that's pretty outstanding, especially for a teenager.
There are plenty of people around who definitely are not supportive of the dance issue, and in the build-up to the town council meeting they let their displeasure be known. Wes's business is suffering, Lulu has been getting angry phone calls, and Ren's mom gets fired from her job, her boss saying she needs to be home to watch her troublemaker kid. Worse, someone throws a brick through Sarah and Amy's bedroom window with a message written on it: BURN IN HELL.
Later that night, Ren tells his mom what's really driving him to make the dance happen. It all goes back to his absentee father. His dad had threatened to leave them, and Ren felt like it was his fault. He tried to do the right things and to fix their home life, but his dad ended up leaving anyway. Nothing Ren had done had meant anything to him. This time he might really be able to make a difference.
The town council meeting is held. On behalf of most of the senior class of Bomont High School, Ren appeals to the council to abolish the law against public dancing within the town limits. Reverend Moore reiterates his viewpoint that a dance is just a gateway to liquor, drugs, and spiritual corruption. Some townspeople in the stands try to shut Ren down.
Even his uncle speaks out against him like a total traitor douche.
His uncle was jealous of him. Not only because he was young and handsome, but because he was his own person, even at such young age.
It was shown earlier that Vi Moore does not agree with her husband's decision to block the dance. She laughed at his idea that dances make teens sexually irresponsible, as if stopping the dance will stop teen hormones. She told him that none of these restrictions will undo their son's accident and he can't be a father to the entire community. When she sees Ren being disrespected at the meeting, she speaks up for him, saying he has a right to be heard before the council votes on the issue.
Ren delivers a speech to the council, trying to get them to see that he's not "encouraging destruction" with this motion. He even uses quotes from a Bible provided to him by Ariel to back up the case for allowing dancing.
In some movies, this speech would have been a triumphant moment, he would have gotten the opposition to see the error of their ways and the dance would be approved. That's not how it goes.
Which is actually closer to what would happen in real life.
The filmmakers don't even show us the vote. It just cuts from Ren finishing his speech to him going about his job at the feed mill.
Andy Beamis was at the meeting in support of his employee, and although the council still voted against the dance, Beamis has an idea for a way to get around the law. The feed mill is on the other side of the railroad tracks from the town of Bomont, and those tracks are the dividing line between the jurisdiction of Bomont and the next town over, Bayson. They could dance there.
To make sure the dance will go off without a hitch, Reverend Moore will still have to be convinced somehow that it won't lead to spiritual corruption.
There's another heated confrontation between Ariel and her father. That fight is interrupted by word of overzealous actions being taken by a group led by Roger Gurntz, who has accused the Reverend of getting too lenient and letting corruption start to take root. Actions which lead Moore to question who elected them to be the saviors of everybody's souls and how far down the slippery slope of censorship they're willing to go. He tells them Satan is not in the books they want to ban and burn, but in people's hearts.
It's a scene we're not shown that really gets Reverend Moore to see how wrong he has been. Ren stops by the Moore household for a quiet, civil conversation with the Reverend. All we see of their talk is the end of it, at which point they're talking about the Reverend's deceased son and the father who abandoned Ren.
When Ren leaves, Ariel also finally takes the approach of dealing with her father in a calm manner, telling him that she may not believe everything he believes, but she believes in him.
With his next sermon, Reverend Moore admits to his congregation that he has made mistakes, and he has to trust people to make the right decisions in their lives instead of trying to force them to. In the same way, parents have to trust their children. He somewhat gives the senior prom being held at the feed mill his blessing; he doesn't condemn it, but instead leads a prayer asking the Lord to guide the teens in their endeavors.
The dance is on.
The feed mill prom starts off with a slow dance to the song "Almost Paradise", written by Pitchford and performed by Mike Reno of Loverboy and Ann Wilson of Heart.
As the song plays, Moore and Vi watch from a distance. After being assured by Beamis that he did a good thing here, the Reverend embraces his wife. And begins to sway a little. Almost dancing.
But before the fun at the prom can really begin, there is one more obstacle that needs to be cleared. Chuck and his lackeys show up at the feed mill looking to cause trouble. Foreigner's "Waiting for a Girl Like You" plays on the soundtrack again as the bullies initiate a fight.
Lots of fighting/hitting going on in this movie.
It's a great moment when Rusty actually gives Willard permission to fight back.
Despite being outnumbered, Ren and Willard come out the victors of the scuffle, then head inside with their dates Ariel and Rusty to lead the Bomont youths in a dance to "Footloose".
I love it how the prom almost seemed like a waste, with no one wanting to be the first to venture opening the dance floor, but once that happens, a lot of them dance like professionals. Did Ren teach them all how to dance?
The inexperienced teens who went to the Elmore City prom complained of side aches from dancing, dates kicking and stepping on feet while trying to dance, and a lack of slow songs because the fast ones were too hard to dance to. These Bomont kids don't appear to have such troubles, there are some oddly talented dancers in this bunch.
All the glitter seems fitting to the happy ending. I'm sure they could still find glitter everywhere a few weeks after that and weren't exactly thrilled about it, though.
As the credits start to roll, another Pitchford/Loggins collaboration, "I'm Free", plays. That's followed by a reprise of "Let's Hear It for the Boy".
"I'm Free" is another one of my favorites.
I don't know if Dean Pitchford had ever written a script before Footloose, but his first produced screenplay is a masterfully crafted one. It doesn't always play out in the way you might expect it to, but every thread ties together and each character's story gets a satisfying resolution.
Some of the characters are deeper than what they seem, and the story is about fighting for what you believe in, whatever that might be, and also about restored faith in people. So, this isn't just a silly "dance movie", it has meaning, and the way the story is delivered is very fulfilling.
Pitchford and his collaborators also provided the film with an awesome soundtrack. Before doing this write-up, I had no idea so many of the songs were originals written and recorded specifically for Footloose. This was the source of a few of the most popular songs of the decade.
I didn't know that most of the songs were written for the movie, either. I thought that they'd done a great job picking them, because the soundtrack is ridiculously amazing. It makes sense now.
Herbert Ross capably brought the story to life, filming in Utah locations that look beautiful on screen.
I really like the choreography. Another great job by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, who's also responsible for choreographing my beloved The In Crowd.
Ross managed to assemble a great cast as well, most of whom perfectly inhabit their roles.
I wouldn't say the cast is perfect, but even the performances that aren't 100% satisfying aren't awful, either. Nothing that gets in the way of the movie's greatness. And most of the actors do a really good job, some more than others.
John Travolta turned down the role of Ren, which was a smart decision. Four years after Urban Cowboy, he was too old to be playing a high schooler. Kevin Bacon beat out Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe to win the part, and although I can't help but wonder if I would have liked the movie even more if Cruise (who was busy with All the Right Moves) had been Ren, Bacon does fine work here.
Cody is biased because he's way too into Tom Cruise, but no... I'm sorry to say this, but not even Cruise would've been a better Ren. This was Bacon's through and through and no one could've done a better job. Thinking about it now, Bacon had done a lot of growing as an actor by then, in a short period of time. Sure, his Friday the 13th role wasn't all that significant, but this is only a few years later, and he's the perfect leading man here.
Lori Singer I'm a bit ambivalent about. She does well with most of what she's given to do, but can be a little off-putting at times, and the character comes off as being a bit dimmer than might have been intended.
The character is supposed to be sexy while still being somewhat of a tomboy, but Singer doesn't have the "sexy" part down at all. Sure, she has a cute face, but there's something about her body and the way she moves... it's almost uncomfortable. She has broad shoulders, but she's so skinny, and she walks and almost sounds like a guy sometimes, so I don't think that's what the character was supposed to be like. I'm not a fan of her performance.
John Lithgow does a fantastic job as the self-righteous but tormented Reverend Moore, bringing pathos to a character who could have been insufferable for most of the movie.
I agree. The character had a sense of justice, when it would've been so easy to just go with the rest of the citizens and their attemps to make the town even more strict than it already was. Lithgow did a great job portraying Reverend Moore.
Chuck is an antagonistic jerk, but Jim Youngs plays him well, never taking him into over-the-top villain territory. The guy always thinks he's in the right, even after he has smacked Ariel around. "I treated you decent!"
Even though Chuck isn't what you'd call lovely by any means, I almost feel bad for him sometimes. Ariel was pretty much a walking nightmare to him. He didn't have to beat her, but I can understand why he'd feel frustrated, as far as their relationship went.
Chris Penn, John Laughlin, and Sarah Jessica Parker all make their supporting characters likeable and fun to be around.
Love, love, love Chris Penn in the movie. His performance is heartwarming, Willard is one of my favorite characters.
It's funny how one of the first comments Rusty makes was about Ren's tie, and she calls it "fabulous". Sarah Jessica Parker was already channeling Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, more than a decade earlier.
Footloose is a great movie. I've enjoyed it since I was a little kid, and now hold it up as an '80s classic. I will continue to watch it regularly for its emotionally effective and ultimately uplifting story, its music, its characters, the locations, and the '80s atmosphere. It is a really fun, well made film.
I used to watch Footloose all the time growing up, and then I went through a period where I kind of forgot about it for some reason. The first time I rewatched it after that was like "Wow... I remember why I loved it so much." Now I make sure to watch it a couple times a year, and I always have a great time doing it. It's still one of my favorites.
In the 21st century age of remakes, a new version of a popular title in a studio's library can be announced at any moment. So in 2007, when American Idol and Dancing with the Stars were still relatively fresh, the Step Up franchise had just gotten started, New Line Cinema was bringing the Hairspray musical to the screen, and High School Musical had just hit, it wasn't a big surprise that Paramount Pictures put a remake of Footloose into development.
In fact, when the Footloose redux was first announced, it was going to be a High School Musical reunion - Kenny Ortega, director of the High School Musical trilogy, was attached to direct, with the male lead of those movies (and of Hairspray '07) Zac Efron set to star.
Over the next couple years, that iteration of Footloose slowly fell apart. First Efron dropped out over fears of being typecast as "the song-and-dance guy" and was replaced by Gossip Girl's Chace Crawford, who eventually moved on as well. Ortega ended up leaving due to creative differences with Paramount over the tone and budget. While Ortega envisioned a clean-cut "celebration of dance" movie with elaborately staged musical numbers, Paramount's production chief wanted an edgier drama that was more along the lines of the original film.
Paramount then offered the project to filmmaker Craig Brewer, who had breakout success in 2005 with the music-based drama Hustle & Flow and followed that up with the very edgy drama Black Snake Moan, both of which were distributed through branches of Paramount. Brewer initially turned it down, but after thinking about it and finding that Paramount was open to Footloose being updated for modern times with as much of its rougher elements intact as possible and some of his trademark "Southern grit" added in, he signed on.
When Brewer took the job, that's when I stopped dreading a Footloose remake and got interested.
Brewer rebuilt the new Footloose from the ground up, and filming was soon underway in locations around the state of Georgia.
One of those locations was Covington, Georgia, where Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI and the 2009 Halloween II (among many others) were also filmed. Covington had been Crystal Lake and Haddonfield, and now it was Bomont.
Cody will take every chance he gets to mention Rob Zombie's Halloween movies, but I'm the other way around. I would like to completely ignore them. So, to me Covington has only been Crystal Lake and Bomont. And it is a great location.
Like its predecessor, Footloose '11 begins with Kenny Loggins' "Footloose" playing on the soundtrack. The title sequence does indeed feature shots of dancing feet, but this time we get to see who the dancers are as well, and there's a context for their dancing. They are Bomont High students at a beer and music-fuelled party being hosted at someone's farm, celebrating a sporting event win against the neighboring town of Bayson.
The dancing feet scene in the remake doesn't work for me. By showing the dancers, it takes away from it, and it looks way too glossy and staged. Plus, I have a hard time believing that teens these days would be dancing like that to this song.
One pair of dancing feet in Footloose '84 wore cut blue jeans over cowboy boots. Dancing feet here model the same fashion, and those belong to the director, making a cameo behind his "A Craig Brewer Film" credit.
A carload of teens, led by driver Bobby Moore, leave the party and continue listening to "Footloose" as they drive off. While crossing Crosby Bridge, Bobby takes his eyes off the road to kiss his girlfriend. When he looks forward again, the car is about to collide with a Mack truck. All five occupants of the car are killed in the crash.
From the fiery collision, the film segues into a version of the "the Lord is testing us" sermon, but this time Bobby's father Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) is delivering it not to his church congregation but to Bomont residents gathered to witness a town council meeting.
In response to the crash, the council passes new laws meant to protect the town's surviving children. A curfew for minors. Punitive measures to be taken against anyone who hosts a gathering where minors engage in inappropriate activities like drinking alcohol, doing drugs, listening to vulgar or demeaning music, or participating in lewd/lascivious dancing. And no Bomont minors may engage in public dancing unless supervised at a school, civic or church-related function.
Moore's teenage daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough) appears to be disturbed by the passing of most of these laws, and is clearly very hurt by her father voting to outlaw dancing.
Beginning the movie with the crash that leads to the law passing was the first idea Brewer had for his approach to the material. It's a good opening, but I'm ambivalent about seeing the actual passing of the laws. It's nice to see the moment in which Ariel "breaks", but it takes away from Ren finding out about the laws later.
I feel like even though it was a nice touch showing the crash and the story behind it, the reason why the crash happened was way too silly to begin with. They seemed like smart kids (by the way people talked about them), so thinking that Bobby would take his eyes off the road to kiss his girlfriend just doesn't cut it, even considering they were teenagers. I wish they'd have come up with another reason why he lost control of the car.
Three years later, teenager Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) is arriving in Bomont on a bus from Boston. This Ren doesn't have either of his parents - not only has his father abandoned him, but he also had to take care of his mother on his own while she slowly died of leukemia. With no family left in Boston, Ren is moving to this small town to live with his mom's brother Wes Warnicker, Wes's wife Lulu, and their young daughters Sarah and Amy.
They always say Bomont is a small town, but this place has a population of 19,300. That's three times larger than the towns I've grown up in!
I live in a really big city, and even here I feel the "small town mentality" sometimes.
An office off from the Warnicker garage has been converted into Ren's bedroom, and within the garage sits the car that his uncle Wes (Ray McKinnon) is giving him. An old, broken down VW Bug. A fixer upper.
This car is so old that it might be the exact same one they used in the original Footloose!
While working on the car, Ren finds a stash of old albums in the garage, among them Quiet Riot's Metal Health. He just happens to already have the song "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)" on his iPod and blares it while bringing the Bug to life. Finding the vehicle's stereo insufficient, he manages to hook it up to a rusty old P.A. system loudspeaker that he places in the trunk.
This guy's a mechanical and electrical genius!
And a fast one, too. He only needs a few hours - if that - and he's all set.
Operating the accelerator by pulling a rope and blasting "Metal Health" at an ear-splitting volume, Ren goes for a cruise around town... And quickly gets pulled over, ticketed for disturbing the peace.
Ren attends a church service with the Warnickers, and during Reverend Moore's sermon Ariel's friend Rusty (Ziah Colon) takes a giddy interest in the new guy. Ariel doesn't seem as impressed.
After church, Wes introduces Ren to Reverend Moore, who in turn introduces him to Bomont High's principal Roger Dunbar, which was the name of the Coach in the original film. Dunbar is hoping Ren might join the football team, but he has heard of Ren's "run-in with the law", which is news to Wes and the Reverend.
The Reverend's wife Vi Moore (Andie MacDowell) introduces Ren to Ariel, but they just exchange simple "Hey's" before Ariel notifies her parents she's going to Rusty's house to work on a science project that will take them all night.
There is no science project. The girls go to Cranston Motor Speedway, where Ariel's older boyfriend Chuck Cranston (Patrick John Flueger of the Mother's Day remake) is driving in, and wins, a race.
You can tell this Chuck is a douche from the moment you see him. His hair, his beard, I think his picture may actually be the dictionary definition of a douche.
Chuck from the remake is the very definition of sleaze. Nothing good or redeeming about him, he's awful and gross.
After the race, Ariel exhibits some reckless and wild behavior by taking the checkered flag out to Chuck and hanging out the driver's window of his race car while he takes a victory lap. This is much less dangerous than the "switching vehicles" stunt the original Ariel pulled, but it gets a bigger reaction from this Rusty. Rusty storms out on Ariel, saying she has changed since Bobby died, and not for the better.
Rusty's reaction comes off as kind of uncalled for, because what Ariel did wasn't that dangerous. Rusty was acting way too dramatic. Makes me wonder what she might have done after Ariel's stunt in the original movie. But maybe that was because she was getting tired of Ariel's behavior by then. Still feels a little out of place though.
Maybe if Rusty didn't wait three years to speak up, Ariel wouldn't be so far gone...
Ariel goes all the way that night. Chuck pressures her to have sex with him and she gives in, wanting to prove that she's not a child after he calls her his "rebel child".
As Ren does more work on the VW and then settles in for the night with a picture of his mom beside his bed, a low-key country cover of "Holding Out for a Hero" by Ella Mae Brown plays on the soundtrack.
Out of all the covers we get in the remake, this one is definitely my favorite.
The Bonnie Tyler original is '80s iconic, but I think I would prefer to listen to this version.
The next day, Ariel and Rusty have made up by the time Ren drives his Bug into the school parking lot with Wiz Khalifa's "Black & Yellow" blasting and gets out wearing a tie. Rusty compliments the tie and, unlike when he was played by Kevin Bacon, Ren misremembers Ariel's name, calling her Arielle.
In a crowded hallway where he takes a moment to look over a tribute to the five Bomont students who lost their lives three years earlier, Ren bumps into Willard (Miles Teller), to which Willard has a confrontational reaction. As the pair trades insults, Willard quickly warms up to Ren and they end up shaking hands.
Their first interaction isn't as effective as the one between Kevin Bacon and Chris Penn, but it's still funny. Willard isn't very bright, but he's so cool.
Ren and Willard have gym class together, during which Willard introduces the new guy to the captain of the football team, Ser'Darius Blain as Woody.
They continue hanging out through lunch. Ren tells Willard a story about going to Russia two years earlier with his gymnastics team. Over there, Ren hung out and went dancing with two Russian girls. Ren's story finishes with "We danced all night," but Willard pushes it forward by asking "What'd you guys do after?", assuming this is a threesome story. So Ren turns it into one.
I do like that it's Willard making an assumption that takes the story beyond dancing, rather than Ren just messing with him from the start.
After school, Ren secures a job at a cotton gin owned by Andy Beamis (L. Warren Young).
Compared to the first interaction between Ren and Beamis in the original, this one is a letdown to me. Of all the lines that were kept, "Screw 'em. This is only one little corner of the world" didn't make the cut?
I agree. I kept waiting for those lines, and I was disappointed to find out they weren't there.
Ren got Ariel's name wrong, but she still has his curiosity. Asking Willard and Woody about her, he's told that she used to be a goody two shoes but now acts like a hellraiser. Telling the guys that he was just curious about her and isn't trying to bang her or take her ballroom dancing leads to them making a shocking revelation: minors dancing in public is illegal in Bomont.
Ren's "Jump back" reaction remains, but it sounds less silly with him saying "Wait, wait, wait" first.
Bomont High doesn't have a prom, the only dance in town is the church-sponsored Fall Ball, where teens must have six inches of space between them while dancing and sons must dance with their mothers for one song.
In one scene of the original film, Ariel refers to the Hi-Spot diner as "the drive-in". That inspired Brewer to replace the diner with an actual movie drive-in for the remake; the Starlite, which is run by Woody's uncle Claude. The Starlite is a popular place because when there aren't adults around, Claude plays music over the sound system and lets the teens dance in the lot. Woody is said to have gotten two tickets for dancing. A third and he'll be kicked off the football team.
The song danced to in this scene is "Dance the Night Away", a rap song performed by David Banner featuring Denim which quotes the Shalamar song "Dancing in the Sheets".
The way these kids dance, it's hard to believe they live in a town where dancing is prohibited. That means this scene doesn't work for me. The dancing is too over-the-top, it's like they're all professional dancers.
Ren is taken to the Starlite by Willard and pulled into the dancing by Woody's girlfriend Etta. Rusty tries to get Willard to dance, but he declines, so she dances with Ren, too. While dancing, Ren catches sight of another dancer on the lot - Ariel.
Ren goes over to Ariel and the pair dance... until he realizes that she's just putting on a show for Chuck.
Ariel's dancing is very inappropriate. Lewd and lascivious for sure. I would ticket teens for dancing like this, too!
She was dirty dancing!
All of the dancing stops when Reverend Moore shows up to make sure Ariel had some money with her and Claude has to shut off the music.
Ren has his court hearing for his public disturbance charge and although the cop who ticketed him, Officer Herb, clearly wants to see him receive some punishment and Judge Eddie is prepared to sentence him to "Saturday school", Wes has connections with the judge - they're friends who used to drive around in an Impala together and blast Lynyrd Skynyrd. Wes talks Judge Eddie into giving Ren a suspended sentence.
The Uncle Wes character has more to do and is a much better person this time around. Ray McKinnon gives a fun, endearing performance.
Remake Ren's father left him and his mother, and then his mother passed away, which means he was pretty much alone. So, it makes sense that Uncle Wes would be a stronger, way more supportive character in Footloose 2011. I really like how he's portrayed, and it's a great character. Miles better than the one in the original movie.
While Ren is working at the cotton gin, Ariel shows up with a message she has volunteered to deliver for Chuck: Ren is to meet with Chuck at his father's racetrack the next day at 2pm. If he doesn't show up, he'll "miss all the fun."
Ren goes to the racetrack with Woody, Etta, Willard, and Rusty. Willard can't promise Rusty he won't fight, if Chuck tries anything he's going to pound him.
Chuck, not happy with Ren because of the drive-in dance, starts off his conversation with Ren with a variation on their pansy exchange from the original film, except with the word "pansy" replaced by the worse word that was used by his lackeys later on in the '84 movie.
Chuck then hops on a front loader tractor, raising the bucket while driving toward Ren. There's another front loader tractor sitting nearby, but this is just a reference. They're not really going to be used for anything. Chuck drives his tractor over to four decommissioned school buses that have been decorated with themes.
There's a zombie bus, a hunting bus, the Burnin' Hell bus, and the Fun Zone bus, which is covered with stuffed animals. Chuck drives Burnin' Hell, a couple lackeys take the wheels of the hunting and zombie trucks, and Ren is stuck with the Fun Zone. Ren and Chuck are going to solve their differences with a figure eight bus race.
I love the stuffed animals bus!
Figure eight races are such a dangerous concept, it's hard to believe they actually exist. Sometimes they really are done with old buses, too.
After a brief, not very helpful tutorial from Woody and Willard, Ren drives Fun Zone into the race. Lacking a green flag, Ariel takes her green shirt off and waves it in the air to get the race started.
Chuck's buddies crash out of the race. A P.A. system pole is knocked over, the sparks from it igniting the Fun Zone stuffed animals. Ren smashes into Chuck's bus, knocking it on its side and causing it to catch on fire, too. The Fun Zone's brakes go out and Ren is forced to crash it into Chuck's tipped over bus to get it to stop.
The bus race is a little uninteresting, until the crazy things start happening. And the poor stuffed animals got burned!
This sequence feels very absurd and over-the-top to me. Willard sure enjoyed it, though.
Chuck's pal Rich (Josh Warren) approaches Ren in the school library one day and tries to give him some marijuana, which the librarian catches sight of. Ren rushes into a restroom and flushes the joint down the toilet before the adult can take it from him.
Josh Warren acts like he's Jack Black's little brother.
It's too obvious, so it doesn't really work.
Ren is taken to Principal Dunbar's office with the librarian as a witness against him and Officer Herb is called in to oversee their meeting. But Ren won't admit that the joint was Rich's and offers to be drug tested. Without evidence, Dunbar decides to let him off with a warning... And then makes the mistake of talking about Ren's deceased mom Sandy.
Dunbar knew Sandy, says she had a "wild spark" just like Ren does. She ran off up north trying to live the high life and ran into unexpected trouble. It's insinuated that this trouble was an unplanned pregnancy that resulted in Ren. Ren doesn't take this well.
Ren storms out of the school, passing Ariel and angrily brushing her off on the way. He drives over to the cotton gin, blasting "My Feet Off the Ground" by Three 6 Mafia (the group that won an Academy Award for their song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp", recorded for Brewer's Hustle & Flow.) Arriving at the cotton gin, which is closed for the day, Ren rages over the way Officer Herb and Principal Dunbar have treated him. Putting on "Catch Hell Blues" by The White Stripes, Ren has a gymnastics-infused angry dance all through the cotton gin.
The angry dance scene is not as good as the one in the original. The songs aren't right, Ren's reaction is too overdone. The dancing is great, though.
The spell of the angry dance is broken when a spying Ariel cheers for Ren's moves. Ren tells her he was letting off steam, which he assumes she has her own "wicked ways" of doing. He won't say if he thinks she's a slut, but does think she's been kissed a lot.
Ariel has Ren drive her out to a train yard, where an old boxcar has been turned into a teen hangout called The Yearbook, its walls covered with quotes from books, songs, and poems. This Ariel doesn't write poems, but she does plan to leave Bomont and go off to college. Coming onto Ren, she asks him if he wants to kiss her. He says, "Someday."
Somehow knowing that Ariel's behavior is caused by some kind of pain, Ren tells her they could have sex right there in the Yearbook, but "that sweat's gonna dry and you're still gonna feel like sh-t." That sort of thing is for Chuck, not for him.
I really like that bit of dialogue.
Hearing a train approaching on the track that runs beside the Yearbook, Ariel goes out and stands right in the middle of the track, playing chicken with the train. As it speeds toward her, she just stands there and waits for either the impact or for Ren to save her.
Of course, Ren saves her, knocking her off the track at the last second.
This version of the train dodge is marred by some noticeable CGI that was used to put the actors in the shot with the train and to enhance its speed.
It's also taken a little more seriously, because here it's clear that Ariel pretty much wanted to get hit. It wasn't just about being a rebel.
It's late by the time Ren gets Ariel back home, and she gets in trouble with her father for breaking curfew. Reverend Moore forbids Ariel from being around Ren anymore, calling him a troublemaker and a bad influence. He says her behavior has been atrocious ever since Ren got to town.
Ariel doesn't stop hanging out with Ren. In the next scene, he has driven her, Rusty, and Willard to a country music club in a city two hours away from Bomont. Rusty wants Willard to dance with her, but he again declines. In private, Willard confides in Ren that he can't dance at all. The club does feature a country line dancing instructor who could show Willard some moves so he could join the others on the dance floor, but Willard brushes that idea off as "Stupid." He just wants to drink some beer.
The song they're dancing to is "Fake I.D." by Big & Rich. I like country music, but my cut-off for most of it is the '80s. A country song mentioning cell phones, that's not my style.
Not my style, either. And what made this scene so great in the original was one outstanding song after the other. We don't get that this time around.
Rusty eventually gets Willard onto the dance floor by stealing his cowboy hat and going off to dance with another guy. Willard confronts the guy for dancing with his girl and gets punched in the face for his trouble. Rusty responds by smashing a bottle over the guy's head.
On the way back to Bomont, the teens drive over Crosby Bridge. 65 minutes into the movie, Ariel gives Ren some information we've known for a long time about her brother Bobby and the crash.
Ren gets Ariel back after her curfew again, so Reverend Moore goes to the car lot Wes owns to talk to him about his troublemaker nephew pursuing his daughter. Wes is a religious man, but he doesn't let his devotion to God and church stop him from standing up to the Reverend.
While talking to Willard about his problems with Reverend Moore, Ren has an idea: a petition to challenge the law against public dancing so the town youths can organize their own formal, respectable dance.
The way the law was written in this version, Ren would really only have to do what the teens of Elmore City did - approach the school board about having a prom. Ren has bigger ideas, though.
Reverend Moore ended his talk with Wes by saying, "I just wanted to make myself clear." After notifying town council members Principal Dunbar and Reverend Moore that he's going to challenge the dancing law, Ren ends their talk by saying, "I just wanted to make sure my intentions were clear."
Things almost get too personal between Ren and the Reverend for a while. I'm glad they didn't drag that out longer.
Since Ren will be going through so much trouble to make a dance happen, Willard is going to have to learn how to dance. Ren enlists Woody, Woody's friends, and his little cousins and their friends to help him give Willard dance lessons. "Let's Hear It for the Boy", performed by Deniece Williams, plays throughout the lesson montage.
The song made this moment so perfect in the original, that it wouldn't have felt right with any other song. It's great that they realized it and kept it.
The scenes are great, especially with the little girls singing and dancing to the song, it's very sweet. Willard seems to be very into dancing after he learns how to do it.
While Willard is learning, Ren is learning as well, in his case about the town laws. During the montage, he also spreads around "Oppose the Dance Ban" flyers and cards.
Ren's aunt Lulu (Kim Dickens) takes over the mother role from the '84 movie and listens to his explanation for why the dance petition means so much to him. It's not because his efforts to make his father stay didn't work, this time it's because the efforts to save his mother didn't work.
Kim Dickens is a strong actress who wasn't given much to work with. Lulu is really just there to have Ren monologue to her.
I agree that she didn't have a lot of lines, but I feel like being there for Ren was all she needed to do anyway.
Ariel goes to the speedway to let Chuck know it's over between them. Their conversation turns into an argument that becomes physical, with Ariel punching Chuck after he calls her a slut. He tosses her to the ground and continues insulting her, so she takes a metal pipe to his truck. That's when he backhands her.
Ariel goes to her father's church to be consoled by her parents, but when Reverend Moore jumps to the conclusion that Ren is the one who beat her, it turns into another argument. Ariel says he blames Ren for everything just like Bobby and his death are blamed for everything. The fight ends with Moore slapping his daughter, the first time he has ever hit anyone in his life.
The slap is even worse this time because he's hitting his daughter right after she has been assaulted by someone else.
And that's why he didn't go after Chuck? That seems very weird to me.
Before the town council meeting, Ariel gives Ren a Bible with some marked passages, and they share their first kiss.
The town council meeting is held and the scene is almost exactly like the original version.
The council tries to rush through the dance issue and shut Ren down, despite a protest from Wes. Vi Moore, who has previously told her husband that the laws were "too much, too soon" and he should have been more focused on their daughter than on the town as a whole, speaks up and says Ren has a right to be heard.
Ren delivers his pro-dancing, anti-ban speech in a calm, respectful manner, using Bible quotes to back up his support of the activity.
The council's vote against abolishing the law isn't shown. The film just cuts from the meeting to Ren going about a day of work at the cotton gin. Then Andy Beamis, who had been at the meeting in support of his employee, approaches Ren with an idea. Since the dancing ban remains in place in Bomont, have the dance at the cotton gin, which is actually located in Bayson. The Bomont water tower down the street marks the dividing line between the two towns.
To make sure the dance will go off without a hitch, Reverend Moore will still have to be convinced somehow that it won't lead to spiritual corruption... So while the Reverend practices a sermon at the church one night, Ren goes in to talk to him. The two bond over the losses they've suffered in their lives, and then Ren tells Moore that the dance is going to happen at the cotton gin. He asks Moore's permission to take Ariel to the dance, saying he won't go if she can't go.
The original movie didn't show us the conversation Moore and Ren had. I think it was a good decision to let us see their talk this time.
The idea to have Ren as a boy who lost his mother in the remake was a great one. It makes his relationship with Wes more needed and meaningful, and it also gives him more reason to relate to Reverend Moore in a way. They have their differences, but they both know what it feels like to lose someone so close and important to them. And that's when and how the Reverend finally sees he can let his guard down and trust Ren and his intentions.
That Sunday, Reverend Moore admits to his parishioners that he has made mistakes while trying to take responsibility for their lives and that there comes a time when you have to trust people, and your children, to make their own decisions. He gives the dance his blessing.
The lack of a good song after this very important moment is sorely felt. "I'm Free" was playing in my head and made it all better, though.
As Ariel gets ready on the day of the dance, she's presented with a corsage by her mother. The same thing happened in the original, and Vi helped her put the corsage on. This time, the corsage is actually from her father, and the Reverend helps her put it on. As the two talk, all is forgiven.
Ariel's dress in the remake is just as bland as the one in the original.
The Reverend embraces his daughter, swaying a little as he does so. A hug that becomes something of a dance.
This is a sweet moment. Up until this point, the interactions between Ariel and her father were too few and pretty much all negative.
Ren takes Ariel to the cotton gin, which has been turned into a ballroom with the help of some down-home country style decorations, like a Mason jar chandelier, and where they find that no one is dancing yet, despite music playing. With the help of Woody and Etta, they get people on the dance floor, having the first dance to a cover of "Almost Paradise" performed by Victoria Justice and Hunter Hayes.
As Willard and Rusty arrive, with Willard dressed up and looking "sexier than socks on a rooster" according to his girlfriend, they see Chuck and some of his buddies pull into the parking lot. Rusty asks Willard not to fight, but as the guys start roughing them up, Rusty tells them to "Kill the sons of bitches!" In the ensuing fight, it's not just Ren and Willard fighting off the bullies, Rusty and Ariel get involved, too.
I thought that was some nice 21st century girl power there.
Meh... Ariel acting tough and yelling things felt a little too annoying.
The final blow of the fight isn't delivered by any of the teens, but by Beamis, who then tells Ren to get back into the cotton gin and liven up his dance.
Now I almost like remake Beamis as much as I like original Beamis. Almost.
A cover of "Footloose" by Blake Shelton kicks in on the soundtrack and plays over the last dance of the movie, during which Willard gets to show off his newly learned moves to Rusty.
No glitter this time? Aww.
As the credits roll, there's a cover of "Let's Hear It for the Boy" performed by Jana Kramer, followed by "Dancing in Dee's Sheets", which is another rap variation on "Dancing in the Sheets", this one performed by Rae featuring Chris Classic and Alana D. It all wraps up with reprises of Big & Rich's "Fake I.D." and "Suicide Eyes" by A Thousand Horses, which played during the first speedway scene.
Footloose '11 sticks very close to the '84 film, so much so that Dean Pitchford received a co-writing credit on Brewer's screenplay, but with enough differences to make it its own unique viewing experience. In some cases, its differences are strengths, in others weaknesses.
My favorite different aspects are the fact that Ren's mom passed away - it gives the character reason to be more of a rebel this time around - and the fact that his uncle Wes was so great and stood up for him. Also, I love the scene where everybody gets together to help turn the cotton gin into a ballroom. Very nice display of community spirit.
Some dramatic moments that I liked, and some of which gave Reverend Moore's storyline more depth, didn't make it into the new version, and yet some of the remake's greatest moments come from the added dramatic elements. The talk between Ren and the Reverend, Wes standing up for his nephew, Ariel telling her father that she has been lost since the death of her brother and he hasn't noticed, the father and daughter's final scene together.
Like I said before, in the remake, when there are scenes with Ariel and her father, they're usually negative in tone. I missed their more "positive" or "day-to-day" interactions like we see in the in the '84 movie. But, the final scene they have together was one of my favorite things about the remake.
This version's worst elements for me are everything to do with Chuck Cranston. I complimented the original Chuck for not being an over-the-top villain, but this one is. The guy is a total joke, he and his friends act like living cartoons. The way the bus sequence plays, in particular, comes off as ridiculous.
I agree 100%.
Aside from the bad guys, I like the cast. Kenny Wormald is more of a dancer than he is an actor, he's no Kevin Bacon, but I think he does well.
Kenny Wormald did a good job as Ren. Kevin Bacon gave the character such a special charm that no one could come close to being that perfect, but Wormald didn't disappoint.
Julianne Hough was going to be Ariel if the Kenny Ortega version of the movie had happened as well. Brewer didn't have to use her, but she won him over with an audition. She's clearly putting her all into her scenes, and often comes off better than Lori Singer did.
Hough definitely had the looks. She's really pretty, girly, and she has the sexy part down, but as far as what the character should be like, it still wasn't ideal. Lori Singer was too boyish, and Julianne Hough is almost too slutty as Ariel. The ideal Ariel would be somewhere in between. I'd still pick Hough's performance over Singer's, though. She might not be the best actress out there, but I honestly can't think of someone who'd do better, and she did a pretty decent job.
Miles Teller is fun as Willard. This was the first time I saw him in anything and he won me over from the moment he appeared. I've been glad to see that his career has been rising steadily ever since.
Same here. Actually, one of my favorite things about the remake, if not the one, is him. I was worried about who'd play Willard, since he was so amazingly played by Penn in the original, then I saw the movie and couldn't be happier with the new Willard. Great performance. Definitely a highlight.
Now I can't say the same about Rusty. Ziah Colon was average, and kept the character sassy, but Sarah Jessica Parker did a much better job... her Rusty was sweeter and more genuine.
I like Dennis Quaid, but his Reverend Moore is weaker than John Lithgow's was.
I feel like his performance was too stiff. My favorite scene - which was the monologue about small towns vs. big cities - can only be seen in the extras. That's a shame, I wish they hadn't deleted it.
I do like Andie MacDowell as Vi. She brought more depth to the character. Not that Dianne Weist was bad, but she was more generic than I'd have liked.
The movie's soundtrack suffers for me. It's a given that it would, I would always choose '80s music over modern music, but this soundtrack has a heavy dose of rap and modern-style country, and I'm not a fan of either. Still, there are some good songs in there, even beyond the re-used Pitchford tunes. I like "Catch Hell Blues", "Little Lovin'" by Lissie, "Window Paine" by The Smashing Pumpkins.
Yeah, the soundtrack as a whole just didn't do it for me. And I don't even mean it as a comparison. The original soundtrack is untouchable. This one just didn't come through, regardless.
I didn't know much about Craig Brewer's work, so thinking of a Footloose remake sounded extremely scary to me back then. I honestly thought it'd be a mess. It isn't. It's not amazing by any means, but it's not anywhere near as bad as it could've been.
Footloose '84 is a classic. The remake can't reach those heights, and the '80s movie's sights and sounds are much more appealing to me, but '11 is a fine movie in its own right.
This is only the second time I've watched the remake. I don't see myself watching it a whole lot, but it's an alright movie. Could've been better, but it also could've been much worse. It just doesn't compare to the original, but it's not the worst remake out there. Not even close. I wouldn't say I love it, but I do like it and see it as a pretty decent effort.
*Our Footloose Comparison is complete, but our dance fever hasn't been cured yet. The next movie Priscilla and I will be covering is an '80s-themed musical from Adam Shankman, the director of Hairspray (2007), that stars Tom Cruise, who wasn't in Footloose '84, and Julianne Hough, who was in Footloose '11. We can't fight this feeling, we're going to have nothin' but a good time with 2012's Rock of Ages.