REVIEW: Footloose

5 03 2012

I’m no better or no worse for having seen the 2011 remake of “Footloose.”  I really can’t insult it too much; Craig Brewer’s movie is extremely corny to the point where it almost invites self-mockery.  It’s the kind of movie tailor-made to people who don’t want their movies to be sophisticated and crave dialogue that just ridiculously follows a stupid cinematic template.  To compare it to the last movie I reviewed, “A Separation,” does neither justice as this movie relishes being something very far removed from reality.

And indeed, if you can just fade into a world where dancing, not drinking, is the societal evil, then “Footloose” may be just the movie for you.  There are plenty of decently choreographed sequences that catch the eye, but they feel a little out of place without the framework of a Broadway musical.  It wants to be a musical movie without fitting into the musical genre, a hybrid that didn’t really work when Tim Burton tried it in 2007 with “Sweeney Todd” and doesn’t fare any better here.

If you can’t remove the critic in you to watch a movie, then “Footloose” probably just isn’t a movie you should spend your time watching.  Kenny Womald, the newcomer cast as leading man Ren, will undoubtedly irk you.  While it’s admirable that they didn’t just cast a Zac Efron-type for looks, casting an unknown carries risks, and the movie becomes a 101 course on why you shouldn’t cast one in a big role.  He has what Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em would call an annoying “pretty boy swag,” meaning that he struts his body and hair around as a replacement for really acting.

Julianne Hough sure can sing, but I’ll need a few more movies before I can buy her as an actress.  She gets the prickliness of her loose character Ariel right on, but I got the feeling she should have been a little more sympathetic than Hough made her come across.  Leave the emo teenage angst to Kristen Stewart, please.  Miles Teller as Ren’s boon companion Willard is the closest thing “Footloose” has to a scene-stealer, yet knowing that this was his follow-up to the superlative “Rabbit Hole” just made me sad inside.  And Dennis Quaid, once again, puzzles me with his undeniably eclectic role choice as the fire-and-brimstone Reverend Shaw.

I haven’t seen the original with Kevin Bacon, but I feel like I can say “don’t fix something that isn’t broken” to Brewer’s remake just as easily as I can to any other half-baked and uninspired Hollywood retooling.  New faces on an old story … sigh.  It’s ok, many greater directors have tried and failed just like you, Brewer.  Not everyone can be Martin Scorsese; there have to be some directors who can make him look like a saint in comparison.  

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