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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Rath's Reviews: Footloose

If there is anything I have learned from attending the movies nearly every week for the last year, it's don't judge a book by it's cover. For example, last week, Crazy Stupid Love blew me away and I never would have seen it otherwise. And over the last few months I have heard TONS of people bashing on this Footloose remake. I'll admit I was disappointed when I heard that Hollywood was remaking it. It seems that anymore, Hollywood is all about three things: sequels, reboots, and remakes. But the bashing on Footloose was hard. After every time the trailer showed in theaters, I would hear people around me: "Oh my God! Really?" or "That looks so stupid!" just stuff like that. Typical judging-a-book-by-its-cover attitude. I at least wanted to give it a chance, plus I'm a sucker for dance movies after the ridiculously cool Step Up 2 and Step Up 3D.

With that being said, there are some books that read exactly the way their covers look. Footloose is more or less that type of "book".

If you have seen the original (I have not seen the entire movie, but I am familiar with the key scenes) then there is plenty of nostalgia to be had here. MTV Films has tried to modernize the movie by adding some rap music and iPods, but at the same time, there are some scenes that are the exact same. Ren's classic burgundy tux and flash-dancing rage session are among some of the scenes ripped from the 1984 original. Sometimes this form of keeping with the same movie works and other times it doesnt. For example, at one point in the movie there is a bus race around a dirt track which was literally boring me to death. Our generation is used to high-octane action. We grew up on Mission Impossible, The Matrix, etc. Bus racing at 10mph just doesnt have the same effect that it did in the eighties. Now I know that the aim of this movie is not to be an action film, but in the words of Gob Bluth, "COME ON!" They should have modernized this section with dune buggies or even Vespa's would have been better.

Filmed at the Grizzly Rose?
A more significant generation gap that glares brightly in the movie is the debate of separation of church-and-state. I wasn't alive in the 80's, but I'm sure that the topic was much more heated back then when compared to today's uber-politically-correct society that is scared of saying the word "God" unless they are in privacy or church. The whole premise of the movie is that dancing, among other things, is banned after a tragedy strikes a community early in the movie. This is mainly because the preacher of the town (Dennis Quaid who is good as always) has a strong word on the city council. I was surprised with the amount of religious talk in the movie, in fact I appreciated it, it might remind some people that religion actually does still exist (Gasp! No not everyone is an atheist ya bunch of hipsters!). But as I said before, the separation of church-and-state is pretty much a settled debate, so its discussion in the movie is lost.

Another complaint I have about the movie is that the first half is, in my opinion, just terrible. Which is a shame because about halfway through the movie, it gets really good, and stays really good all the way through the ending. In particular, there is a scene where Willard (played scene-stealingly perfect by newcomer Miles Teller) learns how to dance. It is easily my favorite part of the film, along with the ending, and really turned the film around for me. In addition to Miles, the other newcomer, Kenny Wormald (who replaces Kevin Bacon as Ren McCormack) pretty much certifies his stardom here. Maybe not necessarily as a dancer (though he is fantastic), but as an actor. He isn't Oscar-worthy good, but you want to see him succeed, you want his character to get the girl and all that jazz. Julianne Hough is a fair enough actress, not amazing - not terrible, but she shines on the dance floor; being able to dance more natural than any of the others (by natural I mean looking like she is having a good time while doing it). Which I guess is why she won Dancing With the Stars twice.

One of the best scenes of the movie. Nearly exactly the same as the 1984 original
By the time the movie got to the ending, I was enjoying the nostalgia, and more importantly, I was enjoying the movie. The end, with a well choreographed fight scene and the movie's best dance scene, really won me over to ultimately liking the movie.

The ending features the best dancing and a pretty good fight scene. Again, notice the nostalgic burgundy tuxedo!
Footloose is not a dancing movie. I would classify it more as a country film. One where it feels homey, small town, and uplifting. Does it live up to the original? Probably not, but what remakes ever do? It's certainly not Hollywood's worst remake ever, that's for sure. The question is would I recommend it? And that's hard to answer. The first half was so bad, but the second half was worth it to me. If you have a free afternoon or date night and you are in a good mood, then I say hit up Footloose.

As a final note, I want to point out the main thing that I think can be learned from the film. Dancing, while sometimes considered "gay" or "stupid", is one of the main ways people express themselves. So to all the guys out there, don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself when you are dancing, people will appreciate you for it (assuming you arent sloppy drunk). I know this firsthand. And ladies? When a man is upstanding enough to want to dance with you in ways other than grinding, appreciate it. It shows they are comfortable with you so stop worrying so damn much.

Pros:

  • I would give the second half of the movie an 8.5/10, it was great
  • For so many first-time actors, the acting was surprisingly well done
  • As most MTV Films do, it had a fitting soundtrack throughout the movie
  • Great dancing in some scenes
  • A fun sense of nostalgia
  • Great scenes between Ren and Willard that are always funny
Cons:
  • I would give the first half of the movie a 4/10, it was awful
  • Some corny scenes (aka the flash-rage-warehouse-dancing scene) but they have to be there to stay true to the original
  • Church-and-state debate is insignificant in this day and age
  • When compared to the dancing in Step Up 2 and Step Up 3D, this movie lacks big time other than the last scene
  • That bus racing scene was seriously so dumb. How do buses spontaneously catch on fire and how is there that much damage when you are driving at a max speed of 15mph!?!?!? 

Rath's Review Score: 6.5/10


In other movie news, the first OFFICIAL trailer for The Avengers was just released as I wrote this. Check it out below:


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