FILM REVIEW: Footloose

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That’s the mantra of director Craig Brewer, who updates the storyline of this toe-tapping remake to present day Georgia but retains the familiar characters and plot of the 1984 classic, which immortalised Kevin Bacon as a teen rebel who unites the emotionally scarred youth of his hometown with the intoxicating power of boogie.

Opening to the infectious twangs and beat of the Kenny Loggins title track, Footloose doesn’t put a heel or toe out of place in the energetic dance sequences to funky new versions of Deniece Williams, Shalamar and Bonnie Tyler.

The good-looking, athletic cast kick up their heels with gusto and choreographer Jamal Sims melds line dancing with hip hop and street, always harking back affectionately to the iconic moments of the earlier version.

Lead stars Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough are impressive in their solos and the group numbers, and they catalyse smouldering screen chemistry.

Miles Teller provides excellent comic relief as the best friend with two left feet, who needs to learn how to dance to impress his girl, and Dennis Quaid delivers another robust and rather moving supporting performance as the preacher whose grief divides a community.

Ren McCormack (Wormald) arrives in the God-fearing town of Bomont three months after the deaths of five high school students on their way home from a dance.

As a knee-jerk reaction, local minister Reverend Shaw Moore (Quaid), whose son perished in the wreck, persuades the council to pass new laws imposing a 10pm curfew on minors and banning dancing within town limits.

“He is testing us,” Moore tells his congregation, “especially now as we are consumed with despair.”

Ren flouts these edicts, playing loud music in his car and attracting the attention of the local cops and the school’s headmaster, who instructs the new boy, “Life isn’t one big party and I don’t care what the rap people say, marijuana isn’t fun!”

Determined to dance, come what may, Ren vows to revive dancing in Bomont with the help of his buddy Willard (Miles Teller), the Reverend’s daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough) and gal pal Rusty (Ziah Colon).

Footloose follows the narrative arc of the original, culminating in Ren’s rousing call to arms at a town meeting using The Bible as his primary evidence to extol the joys of dance.

Wormald and Hough are both excellent movers and they stand out in the electrifying dance sequences including a rootin’ tootin’ hoedown complete with a flurry of glitter.

It’s all predictable yet huge fun right down to Ariel whispering seductively, “You want to kiss me?” and Ren replying staunchly, “Some day.”

His resolve weakens before the 100 minutes are up but we gladly dance to director Brewer’s tune.

by Damon Smith

(12A, 113 mins)

:: NO SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 6.5/10

Released: October 14 (UK & Ireland)