En español | He’s no Kevin Bacon, but the kid can boogie. Kenny Wormald, former backup dancer for Justin Timberlake, had some big boots to fill when he was cast as Ren MacCormack in this year’s big-screen Footloose remake, but it turns out that he’s cute enough, sincere, and capable of pulling off a convincing Boston accent. And that’s not all there is to like about this redo of the ‘’80s celebration of dance and kids having fun.
See also: Dancing With a Star.
Director Craig Brewer, best known for Hustle & Flow, follows the original somewhat inane Footloose storyline religiously, including plenty of hokey dialogue. Teenager MacCormack moves from the big city to a tiny town (called Bomont, as in the original, but located in Georgia rather than the Midwest where local leaders and the preacher have banned loud music and dancing after a handful of high school kids are killed in a car accident following a night on the town. MacCormack wants to shake things up, to prove that he can change things that matter. So the march to the dance floor, complete with Kenny Loggins’s classic anthem, is on!
Brewer modernizes the tale in tiny ways. A radio is now an iPod. MacCormack’s character is enriched by a backstory about his single mom, who battled leukemia. Bomont, struggling in an economic downturn, is no longer all white, but populated with a diverse, integrated group of fairly interesting characters. As the preacher’s daughter Ariel, Julianne Hough (of Dancing With The Stars fame) is much sexier than 1984’s Lori Singer, and darkly complicated — at least in the first half of the film before she transforms into a sweet girl next door. And Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole) makes his version of the dorky teen Willard as likeable as Chris Penn did and, perhaps, a bit more quirky.
Sadly, the two key “adult” characters — Dennis Quaid as the Reverend Moore, and Andie MacDowell as his wife — pale in comparison to their ’84 counterparts, John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest. They’re both wooden and overwrought and about as unappealing as the dance scenes are infectious.
This Footloose probably won’t find a cult following like the original, primarily because it sounds too much like a familiar tune. But that’s not to say you won’t find yourself humming it.