Sunday, October 23, 2011


Look Ma No Hands

"Been working, so hard, I'm punching my card. Eight Hours for what?"

No music no life, and for some, it's no dance no life. My memory of Footloose back in the 80s when I first saw it as a young boy, was Kevin Bacon, and the nifty dance moves that he did not perform. So do we need another remake to correct that, through the casting of a proper dancer in the lead role? In many ways this film by Craig Brewer is unnecessary, being nothing other than a platform to launch or further the acting careers of the multi-talented lead cast, and to satisfy his inner geek of coming up with his own vision of one of his favourite films, but in reality I'd rather stick to the Kevin Bacon version please, even if it meant having a stunt dance double twirl around the screen. It's almost as good as the original, almost, but lacking a little bit of its own soul since it's a superficial copy at best.

There's no major change to the structure of the story, set in a small town where loud music and public dancing are banned, following a tragedy involving the accident and deaths of a few high school kids after a dance party fueled by alcohol, and the knee jerk reaction to this is to outright ban such activity, obtaining the stamp of approval by the town's pastor Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) to impose a tight rein on morals, enforced by the cop with an attitude Herb (Jayson Warner Smith). But as we know all too well, what you ban never really stays away, as all you do is to force it underground, which the young and the rebellious would take to like fish to water.

As a teenage/young adult film, themes like challenging the status quo, or authoritative figures, is never quite far off, and usually it takes an outsider to come into a closed community to shake things up a little, and wake people up from their slumber of complacency. This change agent and catalyst comes in the form of Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) who following the death of his mom and the unknown whereabouts of his dad, made the trek from Boston to his relatives in Bomont, looking very must the angst-filled young man coming with plenty of family and emotional baggage and looking for any outlet he can to release pent up frustration, from a souped up Beetle, to of course, loud music and dance. Being told he can't do any of it means a set up for a rage against the system.

But before that comes the romantic aspects in the form of the village bicycle, so ironically the preacher's daughter herself Ariel Moore (Julianne Hough) who parties like there's no tomorrow, and with a token red neck, race car boyfriend Chuck Cranston (Patrick John Flueger) in tow who doesn't like that Ren can dance into the heart of his woman. So begins the love triangle, and the usual plotting about having a best friend (Miles Teller) who can't dance but can do so after a training montage.

In essence you'll know just what to expect since the story's basically the same, about not judging a book by his cover, where the townfolks slowly realize that Ren's pretty much the harmless guy despite his macho exterior. I mean, the guy dances, and dances well, and Kenny Wormald has the advantage of being a professionally trained dancer to pull this role off convincingly, though it would be a stretch if one considers this film to be his calling card ala what Saturday Night Fever did for John Travolta. Having Juliianne Hough play that romantic interest also seemed like a logical choice given her career thus far, and undoubtedly these two look great together whenever they heat up the dance floor, be it improvised numbers, or conforming to the steps of a line dance.

Unfortunately that's about the best parts of the film, although the dances with their stylish choreography somewhat pales in comparison in just about any big budgeted Bollywood film item number. There are some nice attempts at enriching the plot, but these remains just attempts as a number of scenes just fly by for the sake of, such as the drug incident at the library and the aftermath with the school principal, or the very fleeting non-discussion between separation of church and state, which will work as timely reminders for the religious over-zealous folks around us, that it's almost always counter-productive if one gets pushy in wanting everyone to adopt one's moral compass. Unnecessary distraction in the form of Ren's car having its hood appear and disappear also inferred scenes got shifted around because of indecision, and a rote finale involving some fisticuffs could be seen coming a mile away, with an expected outcome.

It's a good thing nobody had the insane idea of reworking the theme song for Footloose, but given the country version covered by Blake Sheldon, I'd still say, like the film, to give me the original please, with Kenny Loggins. Strictly meant for those who haven't seen the original or the fanbase of Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough, otherwise go dig up the original.

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