It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly this ’80s nostalgia virus seemed to grip the globe in such a breathless ecstasy-hold. Hollywood has already come for “beloved” films from that decade, either in the form of aerobicized remakes starring Kelsey Grammer (“Fame”) or laughable sequels (“Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights”) and no-one spoke out, so we only have ourselves to blame for this long-threatened “Footloose” remake, which is finally coming to fruition. Discerning “Archer” fans will excuse this writer as he invokes another Kenny Loggins song that doesn’t share this film’s title and ventures that we’re probably careening wildly into “The Danger Zone” with this one.
Earlier in the week we were treated to the film’s poster, which appears to have gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick by declaring, “This is our time.” Unless the “our” of that statement is referring to all the men and women who’ll be profiting from this hollow cash-grab and not the film’s intended audience, it’s hard to determine what exactly the tagline is referring to. The similarly confused trailer appears to be aping a vaguely grimy “Save the Last Dance”/“Step Up” vibe, which has Dennis Quaid and, um, Andie MacDowell extolling the inequities of dancing to a tearaway renegade played by Kenny Wormald, who seems about as mentally tortured as a Calvin Klein underwear model. It’s helmed by Craig Brewer, known for darker fare like “Hustle & Flow” and “Black Snake Moan,” and in lieu of updating the teens’ problems in 2011 to extend to sexting and naked Skyping, is sticking with the “dancing=death” plot of the original. Brewer, an accomplished director in his own right, to his credit seems to have put together a fairly decent soundtrack and seems attuned to the potential pitfalls of this project. That said, none of that earlier “harder edge” the director promised can realistically be said to be on display in the trailer. Perhaps it’s misdirection.
The original “Footloose,” which featured the lithe Kevin Bacon strutting his stuff against the wishes of a puritanical John Lithgow and asked us to believe the fictional town of Bomont would attempt to enforce a ban on dancing, was ridiculous from the moment it appeared in 1984. It was, at least, ridiculous and spirited. The spur for this latest iteration is slightly different, taking as its basis the 1998 Broadway stage musical which enjoyed a revival a few years ago. This remake has already gone through numerous, more famous versions with stars like Zac Efron and Chace Crawford.
It’s easy to be a grouch about the existence of a film like “Footloose” and other musicals that have settled on courting a teenage crowd, but it’s hard to get excited about the lack of ambition on display here. No doubt the choreography will be excellent, but is it too much to ask for a smidgen of darkness? A light dusting of innovation? Perhaps it’s time to crack out the universally-panned “Carrie: The Musical” at some point in the future, before we’re treated to remakes of “Breakin’” and its sequel “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” if only so people will stop using that stupid suffix and passing it off as humor. Whatever happens, we can look forward to “Footloose” scampering our way on October 14th. [MovieWeb/THR]