An incredibly rip-roarin’, if flawed, sexy remake of the original that surprisingly dances on its own two feet.
I’ll first start out by mentioning that the advance screening that I attended was filled with frat bros and sorority chicks in eighties outfits, ready for a good time. So the audience reaction was obviously beyond the standard deviation.
However, this shouldn’t dampen the fact that the movie is, if surprisingly, quite enjoyable.
I came in with super low expectations. I was a fan of the original, and I thought Craig Brewer was an interesting choice to direct, but the only thing that was really intriguing to me about the trailer was the fact that they used the song “Wild and Young” by American Bang, which I had discovered on iTunes. It seemed like another totally useless and unnecessary remake.
Then came the opening scene. Brewer referenced the original, showed us stunning choreography, and literally made me jolt upright in a dark, gritty moment worthy of his Oscar-winning film Hustle & Flow. I was spellbound, like a 12-year-old kid. It wasn’t deep or fantastic by any means, but the music was catchy, the characters are not one-dimensional (outside of Patrick Flueger’s Chuck, but there’s good reason for that), and the choreography made you wanna get up and dance (which the vast majority of the audience did at the end, by the way).
You all know the plot, so I’ll skip to the good stuff.
Solid performances all-around in the acting department; Kenny Wormald, a dancer-turned-actor, shows he’s got some chops playing Kevin Bacon’s signature role. His Boston accent is pitch-perfect. Julianne Hough (also a dancer-turned-actor) is charming and intriguing as emotionally-fucked-up love interest Ariel. In the supporting roles, Dennis Quaid does well as a substitute for John Lithgow in the role of the reverend, but one wonders why they felt they had to recast. Lithgow can still play a dad, as seen from his run on Dexter. Miles Teller, Ray McKinnon, the actress who played Ariel’s BFF, and Andie MacDowell do well in small, but important roles, and Patrick Flueger plays the asshole with a douchiness unseen since his solid turn on ABC’s short-lived Scoundrels.
Brewer does a fine job directing; the shots and choreography are tight and excellent; there’s only one small continuity error in a library scene, and you don’t catch it unless you look for it. You can tell he’s restraining himself for PG-13 though; I think would have been a little better with a bit more sexuality (though after Black Snake Moan, one could probably assume that more sex wouldn’t be a good thing). His adaptation of Dean Pitchford’s original script is also quite solid (Pitchford in fact told me himself), if there are minor plotholes. There are some definitely quotable lines here.
The score, by Deborah Lurie, is classically understated and fits perfectly. The music was perfectly used, referencing the original without being a carbon copy.
My favorite part of the film was when hero Ren finally took down asshole Chuck, and all the frat bros in the audience applauded. Irony at its finest.
Random thoughts: There are many good small moments in the film… Ren is chivalrous and smooth… It’s fantastic to see a classic movie hero and love interest, and a good sidekick in Willard, without making the characters too one-dimensional… There are some odd moments early, but everything evens out at the end.
Overall, it fulfills my main requirement for a movie: It inspires you to do something progressive. Dancing, rebellion, civil protest. All good things.
Don’t expect a great movie. Expect to have fun, and you will. Might even have a little thought in your head about the separation of Church and State. But have fun first.
Go see it.
PS: Thanks so much to Ms. Sarah P. Huck for inviting me and putting up with my shenanigans.
PPS: Julianne Hough has easily made my Top 5 Most Attractive Celebrities list.
PPPS: When you go see this movie, take a girl and dance with her at the end. This is a great date movie.
Terence, myself, and Sarah with Dean Pitchford, writer and lyricist for both versions of “Footloose”.