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.  





WTLFT: October 2011

28 09 2011

Can I get a collective “WHOOP WHOOP” for my return from the first month of college hiatus? [pause] If any of you all are still out there (doubtful), you can be louder!  So I’ll need you to comment (shameless plug for commenting).

While I’m on my winning streak of humor, I’ll funnel this goodwill into making you read my post about what to look forward to in October.  Reviews will be coming soon for “50/50,” “Drive,” and “Warrior” with hopes that I’ll find time to squeeze in “The Debt,” “Contagion,” and “Moneyball” somehow between classes, homework, and a social life of sorts.

October is my probably my favorite month of the year, not just for the selfish reason that it’s my month of birth.  It’s a great month to be outside; I’m especially excited this year that I will be out of Texas and in a place where I can experience fall and changing seasons.  It’s also a time of changing seasons at your movie theater, out with summer leftovers and slightly dumpy September fare and in with late-year commercial fare and some early awards plays.  Here’s what 2011 has to offer us in the month of October:

October 7

The best of the month may come in its first weekend with “The Ides of March,” a political thriller written, produced, and directed by George Clooney, who also puts in some time in front of the camera.  The real star is Ryan Gosling as a campaign manager torn between opposing sides of a presidential race.  The movie will surely have important and relevant implications for the way that the modern campaign is run and will no doubt be a major player in the Oscar race this year.  Even if it’s just an early check on your best of 2011 laundry list, this has to be a must-see for every cinephile.

Meanwhile, “Real Steel” … yeah, can’t say I have the highest of hopes for that.  “Transformers” already gave me plenty of clanging metal this year.

On the other side of the tracks, there’s Juno Temple in “Dirty Girl,” a story of sexual mores in 1987 Oklahoma.  It stars Juno Temple, who will have a role in “The Dark Knight Rises,” so it may be worthwhile to see just to say you knew who she was before her breakout (if indeed she does do that).

In case you haven’t had enough Jessica Chastain this year between “The Debt,” “The Help,” and “The Tree of Life,” she also appears in “Texas Killing Fields,” which – no offense to the talent involved – looks like one of those C-list movies you’d find on the “just added” section of Netflix streaming between “Tangled” and “The Expendables.”

This weekend also brings a strange extreme with “The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence,” which looks to overcome the sequel slump by presenting a story of life imitating art (if you want to call the gross-out horror film that shocked audiences last year art).  It’s a must for sadists and horror fanatics; others would do best to just stay home.

October 14

This Friday marks my birthday … and Hollywood celebrates by releasing two remakes and a Jack Black comedy.  Mental confetti just splattered the walls of my brain.

“Men of a Certain Age” gets a big-screen adaptation after cancellation – but directed by “The Devil Wears Prada” (I’m actually being serious here) – as two aging Frat Pack comedians and the guy who has hosted “Saturday Night Live” the second most times in history go on a trip to fight their ennui by taking a trip in “The Big Year.”  Wait, maybe this is a remake …

Meanwhile, ’80s nostalgia runs rampant as “Footloose” and “The Thing” both get updated.  Note to bloggers/columnists: the question “Why aren’t the originals sufficient?” has been asked and answered dozens of times before.

Off the mainstream, “Trespass” begs the question of whether or not the Academy can revoke Nicolas Cage’s Oscar.  But on a more positive note, one of my favorite modern directors, Pedro Almodóvar, is back with his latest film, “The Skin I Live In.”  It didn’t get the strongest reviews out of Cannes, but it looks haunting and beautiful.  Plus, I’ll see just about anything he makes.

October 21

I’m legally prohibited from sharing any thoughts on “Martha Marcy May Marlene” until it hits theaters in Houston – but for now, enjoy the trailer.  And if you are really that curious about the movie, listen to “Marcy’s Song,” a tune from John Hawkes that plays briefly at the end.

How many times can we remake “The Three Musketeers?”  I’m calling it now that in 2022, the kids from “Slumdog Millionaire” will star as Athos, Porthos, and whatever Jamal’s final guess was.  Last year’s October release “Secretariat” gets remade for 2011 as “The Mighty Macs,” this time featuring the woman ahead of her time as a college basketball coach.  “Paranormal Activity 3” gets slightly creative as it goes back to the origins of the horror from the original, but it’s still a sell-out.

On the indie circuit, “Margin Call” boasts a quasi-“Contagion” level of prestige but doesn’t seem to be generating much buzz.  I guess that post-“Inside Job” and “Too Big to Fail,” recession backstories may be old and tired.

October 28

One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing about amazing movies that play at Sundance in January and then having to wait to see them until the end of the year.  Hopefully my patience will be rewarded with “Like Crazy,” the movie that everyone emerged from the festival talking about.  Felicity Jones and Anton Yelchin are two hot talents rising in the industry; hopefully this catches on with the mainstream and helps their careers skyrocket.

“In Time” could be an interesting mix of high-octane popcorn blockbuster and political allegory … or the trailer just gave off false notions.  I’ll have to hover over this one for a little while before deciding what my schedule for seeing it is.

The director of “2012” and “Independence Day” is making a movie with Oscar buzz?!  In what world do we live now?  Might as well check out “Anonymous” … apparently Rhys Ifan’s performance is startlingly good.

I wasn’t a big fan of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” but “The Rum Diary” just looks like Hunter S. Thompson light.  Even with Johnny Depp back, this doesn’t look like it can drum up a lot of enthusiasm.  Speaking of not drumming up a lot of enthusiasm, how about “Johnny English Reborn?”  Waiting 8 years between installments doesn’t do you a lot of good when the original didn’t do particularly well.

So, are you more excited that I’m back burning up the blogosphere or that October is coming soon?  Take the poll, leave a comment, do whatever – but make your voice heard!