Come on, you know you wanna like it. The time has come for your feet to be loosed. Grab your dirty hipster boots, throw on one of eight plaid shirts you own, and two-step your way to a theater, immediately. When you attend said theater, do me a favor and check your disdainful, “I study film as art” hat at the door.
A wise bestie once declared, “it is what it is.” I believe this statement sums up my stance on this delightful piece of cinematic artistry. The original film, starring Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer, though a cult classic, was by no means worthy of Oscar gold. Luckily, the treasured tale of city boy meets country girl comes to life 2011 style, with sassier camera angles, shorter shorts, and many more booties bouncing.
In case you were deprived as a teen, or until two seconds ago believed Bacon was just a breakfast food, lets get all our ducks in a row. Obviously, no man can dethrone Kevin Bacon as Mr. Footloose, reigning lord of the dance. So when cutie McDancer, Kenny Wormald waltzes onto screen, he has some big ole dancing shoes to fill. And he did….kinda. Though Wormald lacks Bacon’s acting cred and on-screen magnetism, his rendition of our luscious lead, Ren McCormack, involves a pretty rad boot scootin’ boogie.
Fresh off the bus from Boston, city slicker Ren bounces into Bomont and gets slapped in the face with small town America. How can our young hero survive a tyrannical town that has outlawed dancing? Fortunately, Ren navigates this angsty dance drama with trusty, redneck sidekick, Willard (Miles Teller), wise but rough around the edges, uncle Wes (Ray McKinnon), and preacher’s kid turned hell-raising hussie, Ariel Moore (Julianne Hough). Former Dancing With the Stars diva, Julianne Hough, is no stranger to strutting her stuff. But something was missing, and I’m not referencing her Dancing With the Stars spray tan. Additional dance numbers and less “acting” would have made for more movie magic. Some of the emotional dribble, involving Andie MacDowell as Ariel’s mom Vi Moore, could have been cut….completely. No offense Andie, but as a firm supporter of the dance genre, I’d rather see more moves like Mick Jagger, and less moments with, ummm, you. But I must give Hollywood kudos, as least director Craig Brewer is from the South. He threw in enough Chevy trucks and cutoff denim to keep me satisfied. I applaud his efforts in staying true to the original screenplay.
Somewhere in the middle, waves of pity arise for the man responsible for the ban on booty dropping, Ariel’s daddy, Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid). After losing his son in a fatal car crash, a crash that sparked the denunciation of dance, he soon discovers his daughter’s rep is less than stellar. Maybe the town’s old fogies are right; maybe dirty dancing is the demise of wholesome, Southern values. Okay, maybe not. Either way, Ren and his crew still fight valiantly for their right to dance. Can we say power to the pubescent, err, people? Amidst this frenzy and frolicking of teens, my fav addition is Miles Teller. Not only does his legit John Deere wardrobe elicit memories of dudes at my high school, but his palpable chemistry with on-screen bff Ren provides genuine giggles. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Miss Hough.
So, were there moments of ridiculous cheese? Yes. Were the Southern stereotypes sometimes a bit too contrived? Definitely. Has any town in the U.S. actually outlawed dancing? Well maybe, I’ve never been to Utah. With that said, let’s hear it for the boy, and girl, who made me believe it’s not too late to cut loose and relive my senior prom in a make-shift barn. Youth of America, embrace your inner dancing queen, and you too can be footloose and fancy free…. if only for one hour and 53 minutes.