Let’s face it: “Footloose” was never a cinematic masterpiece. Those of us who remember it fondly do so primarily because Kevin Bacon was so likably energetic in it, and because the movie’s soundtrack provided the soundtrack to every boy-girl party that followed the film’s release. (Raise your hand if you once slow-danced to “Almost Paradise.” Okay, Gen X, all of you can put your hands down.)
So remaking it seemed almost pointless. But nevertheless, “Footloose” the 2011 version — starring Julianne Hough and Kenny Wormald, and directed by “Hustle & Flow’s” Craig Brewer — arrives in theaters tomorrow.
Have critics embraced its contemporary, largely Kenny Loggins-less take on a story about innocent adolescent rebellion in rural America? A few have, but some key movie experts have not.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, for example, falls in the “I don’t see the point of a ‘Footloose’ remake” camp: “This 2011 version is so similar — sometimes song for song and line for line — that I was wickedly tempted to reprint my 1984 review, word for word,” he writes. “But That Would be Wrong.” He concludes his review by noting: “The film’s message is: A bad movie, if faithfully remade, will produce another bad movie.”
A.O. Scott of the New York Times praises the new version for having a more eclectic soundtrack than the original but ultimately thinks it falls short of its hip-shaking potential: “[T]o be effective, a pop confection like this needs just the right mix of silliness and sincerity, so that you believe both that a lot is at stake in the battle over dancing and that, in the end, it’s really just dancing,” he writes. “Somehow ‘Footloose’ never finds its rhythm.”
Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald, on the other hand, is a huge fan: of the direction, of the stars’ chemistry and of the way the movie embraces elements of the original. “The result is that rare breed of big-studio pictures: A remake that makes sense.”
Is that enough to persuade you to see “Footloose”? Post a comment and let us know whether you plan to revisit the world of Ren MacCormack or stay home instead and listen to Shalamar’s “Dancing in the Sheets” on repeat.