There are three types of ’80s classics: the personal, visionary films that squeezed through a system favouring high concepts and homogeny (Raging Bull, Blade Runner, Blue Velvet); the exact type of mainstream pictures the studios embraced, only done exceptionally well (The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Back To The Future); and the guilty, heart-over-head pleasures (Top Gun, Dirty Dancing, Rocky IV).
Herbert Ross’ Footloose (1984) falls into the latter, its barnstorming mix of hellfire and hoofing inspiring a generation to indeed kick off their Sunday shoes, if only to collapse on the sofa for another viewing. It’s therefore a relief to report that Craig Brewer’s remake is respectful, bordering on reverential. Yes, the guy who brought us Hustle & Flow has resisted the urge to “do a Fame” and lay down hip-hop beats over Kenny Loggins’ title track or Denise William’s ‘Let’s Hear It For The Boy’.
Likewise, the story remains essentially the same, as city slicker Ren McCormack (originally Kevin Bacon, now dancerturned- actor Kenny Wormald) leads some hick-town teens in a respectful rebellion against the no-dancing decree of Rev Moore (Dennis Quaid, replacing John Lithgow’s brimstone rants with pained introspection). Costume choices, dance sequences and the big fight scene tip their Stetsons to the original, and Wormald, though lacking Bacon’s sizzle and looking distractingly like Johnny Depp crossed with Scrat, is a solid, likeable lead. Even better is Miles Teller in the Chris Penn role – a lovable lug with two left feet and a montage to die for. Altogether now: “Footloose, footloose…”
Star-crossed lovers Wormald and Julianne Hough can’t match Bacon and Lori Singer, but over-30s will tap feet and the Glee crowd will mime along.