WARNING: Do not continue reading unless you want to be mildly spoiled on the plot of the Footloose remake. For those who have seen the 1984 version with Kevin Bacon, you’re probably well aware of the story already, so the spoilers included here will just be wherever they altered the plot.
Whenever a production company decides to make a remake of a classic or a sequel to one (think Grease 2), I think most everyone expects it to be awful, and rightfully so, I might add. I think almost every single sequel or remake I’ve seen I’ve found to be rather pathetic. However, despite this trend, I try to go into the theater without a lot of expectations. (This isn’t something I do just for sequels and remakes, by the way, but it’s for most movies–I try not to research in too much detail beyond the original trailer I see in theaters, unless it just totally captivated me and I absolutely had to see/learn more.)
Anyway, I have indeed seen the 1984 version of this film, but I’d like to think I was pretty even in my viewing experience. I can say right off the bat that I was impressed with the scene while the credits were rolling–the dancing was similar to the original, only the camera shot a whole group of feet instead of one pair of feet at a time. I was also impressed with the vintage feel of the dancing–I feel like most footwork in dances don’t look like that anymore, if you know what I mean.
From the beginning though, there are already stark differences. The remake shows the kids driving home drunk from a party and getting killed, followed by the sermon at the church, whereas the sermon is actually the beginning of the 1984 version. Also, when the sermon happens in the remake, Ren McCormick has yet to come into town, but in the 1984 version, Ren is already part of the congregation. These differences alone would probably put off the diehard fans of the original.
To be honest, I found that the remake felt a lot to me like a bunch of high school kids were giving tribute to a famous play or musical like RENT or Bye, Bye, Birdie. I don’t think it was a completely awful attempt, but it just didn’t feel like the best one.
However, I will say this, I remember not being completely sold with the 1984 version either. When I put the two movies side-by-side, I think that if I were to cut pieces here and there from each one, and then mesh them together, I feel like it’d be perfect. Despite what more dedicated fans of this movie might think, I personally was not a huge fan of Kevin Bacon in the role of Ren; then again, I’m not a huge Kevin Bacon fan in general–a crime to some, I’m sure. I also like how much more diverse the cast is in the 2011 version, I think that it makes the film seem more lively. Willard, who is supposed to be just a supporting character, is 10x funnier and plays a much larger role in the 2011 film as well. I loved Miles Teller’s rendition of the character; it was absolutely endearing. Don’t get me wrong, Chris Penn was adorable as Willard as well; they both played Willard very differently. Penn’s take was definitely more masculine; Teller is a bit of a goofball.
Anyway, back to more differences. The next big difference you see is the fact that Ren’s mother is dead in the 2011 version; in 1984, Ren just moved into town with his mother. In 2011, Ren’s mother has passed away after suffering with leukemia, and Ren’s come to town to live with his aunt and uncle.
By the way, in both movies, I didn’t like the casting choice for the role of the preacher–in the 1984 version, I just couldn’t take John Lithgow seriously as Reverend Shaw, and I personally find Dennis Quaid’s acting extremely annoying and over the top.
It’s a shame some of the biggest scenes in the 1984 version are missing from the 2011 one. For example, Ariel Moore (played by Julianne Hough in the 2011 version; by the way, she totally looked like a younger Jennifer Aniston to me) in the 1984 version shows off her daredevilness by doing this crazy car stunt with her boyfriend, Chuck. In contrast, the 2011 version paints her as a “bad girl” by making her pretty much an easy lay for the same boyfriend character. In the 1984 version, Chuck just seems more like a wild rebel than a downright jerk and loser. In fact, in the 1984 version, it’s easier to understand why Ariel might have found Chuck attractive. In the 2011 version, you just shake your head and wonder why she doesn’t think to just find someone better already.
I really could go on and on about the differences; in fact, if there weren’t the same character names and generally the same kind of story, you’d almost think that these were two completely different movies altogether. The 1984 version definitely has more character development, but is slower as a result. The 2011 version seems to believe that visuals make more noise than lengthy dialogue. Again, there’s pros and cons to each approach. Like I said before, I really wish I could cut and paste certain pieces; I feel like it would have just made a better movie.
When I look at it, I think that it was yet another waste of a remake opportunity. I think that big production companies miss the point of a remake or sequel opportunity. They just seem to dumb down the original story to appeal to as many audiences as possible or just make pretty much the same movie and just tack a new number to the end of it, just to make the $$. What they should be doing though, is keeping what’s good the same and tweak only the elements that need fixing or could use improvement.
The biggest letdown would probably have to be the 2011’s version of Ren McCormack’s huge solo dance number. This one I have to give the 1984 version all the points. The 2011 version of the dance basically shorthanded it, not to mention cutting out all the great intensity and flow. When you watched the 1984 version, you’re just awed at how one guy has the energy and on-the-spot choreography know-how to pull something like that off. For the 2011 version, it just seems like someone hit super fast forward through that 1984 dance.
Ariel’s character also puts up a better fight in 1984 than she does in 2011, not to mention Chuck is a lot less sleazy and not a bad looker. If he wasn’t such a jerk, it’d seem a shame that Ariel’s leaving him for Ren.
Sorry I’m jumping around so much this time, but I figure since many people may have either seen or read about the 1984 version, there’s no real need to go in depth of the story, but just in case, here’s a quick side-by-side comparison of the technical aspects of the rest of the most significant points to the story:
|After Chuck beats her up, Ariel goes home to her father, who is convinced that it was Ren who did it and needs to be punished accordingly.||After putting up a fair fight against Chuck, Ariel goes to get comfort from Ren.|
|Ren McCormack gets in a great
deal of trouble at school.
|Ren’s family gets harassed by
townspeople (i.e. his mother loses her job, a brick gets thrown in their window, etc.)
|Ren and his friends put together a
petition to lift the ban on music and dancing.
|Ren decides to bring the subject up
himself at the court of appeals.
|Ariel gives Ren Bible verses that he can use to make a strong case against her father.||Ariel gives Ren Bible verses to help
make a case against the court of appeals.
|Ren makes his case a lot more
quietly and with more focus on the way his words are delivered.
|Ren uses a lot of dramatic gestures
that supplement his speech.
|Ren’s boss shows him a loophole
that he can use so that the dance can still happen.
|Ren’s uncle shows him the loophole.|
|Ren has a conversation with the
Reverend, who mistakes Ren for his deceased son while practicing one of his speeches in the church. Ren asks for permission to take his daughter to the dance.
|Ariel confronts her father in the church
while watching him practice part of his sermon. A book burning takes place soon after this scene, challenging the Reverend and his ideals even further.
Towards the end of the movie, things start to finally become more similar; the Reverend allows for Ariel and the other children to go to the dance (the only mild difference here is Ariel’s parents actually go scope out the dance scene in the 1984 version, whereas in the 2011 version Ariel’s parents just watch Ariel and Ren take off for the event), the kids all set up the final set of the film, there’s a slow dance as well as fight with Chuck. Then at the end, it differs again; the dance sequence at the end of the 1984 film looks more like the beginning of the 2011 one–I personally thought the last dance number of the 2011 version was better and more energetic than the 1984 version. Then again, there were definitely some classic elements to the last 1984 dance sequence that stood out more than what went down in 2011.
So now all that being said, here’s my rating for the movie:
Re-watch Factor: **
FINAL VERDICT: D
I think this film is just a flat D. It’s not so awful that it deserves a failing rating, but it’s nothing fantastic either. It’s Step-Up meets the original Footloose. And as much as I enjoyed Step-Up as a dance movie, it didn’t really have that great a story. I think there are redeeming qualities to this remake, but I’m not sure if I’d watch it again either.
Anyway, all that being said, I’ve decided that I might start cleaning up this site a little bit in the next few days; I’m thinking of creating more pages linking to different topics of discussion, but we’ll see how that goes. I want to be able to blog about other things too, but not clutter the home page too much. Like I said, we’ll see how it goes.
Until next time, everyone!