Many movies are getting hit by the remake trend and often the remake is disappointing in comparison to its original. That’s why the remake of a long-time favorite wasn’t appealing at first. It was hard to imagine anyone other than Kevin Bacon as outsider Ren McCormick standing up against no-singing and no-dancing town laws.
However, as the trailers continued to air, this particular remake started to grow on me. It didn’t disappoint, and others sitting nearby in the audience were dancing in their seats to the opening music.
The 2011 “Footloose” remake stirs up nostalgia for fans of the original, recreating various scenes fairly close to the mark. Anyone who has seen the original “Footloose” will recognize similar fancy footwork at the start and during the prom when it really gets going.
Familiar dance moves aren’t the only constant between the original “Footloose” and its remake. As bad boy, rebel, new-in-town Ren, Kenny Wormald is a mirror image of the original film’s star as he shakes up life in sedate Bomont. Wearing his leather jacket collar up, driving fast in a familiar yellow VW Beetle and blaring Quiet Riot’s metal hit, “Bang Your Head,” he is deemed as trouble by authority. Wormald does well taking the lead to wake up a sleepy law-heavy town and bring back the dancing.
Ariel Moore, played in the original by Lori Singer, is now played by Julianne Hough. The overall background story to Ariel remains the same: her older brother Bobby is killed, along with others, in a car accident following a party. She’s a preacher’s daughter, tired of the overbearing laws the accident prompted, and acts wild in disapproval of her father. Dennis Quaid takes on the roles of preacher and father, once played by John Lithgow.
Sometimes, the differences come down to timely cultural details in the updated story. For example, while Ren teaches his new friend Willard how to dance, the music plays on an iPod instead of a Walkman or bulky radio. The story may be the same, however it isn’t set in the ‘80s. Ren persuades the township representatives, saying, “This is our time,” and the remake itself is set to reflect pop culture of his generation.
The accident that took the lives of Ariel’s older brother and his friends was merely talked about in the original; this time, a flashback leading into the accident is used. This added detail for the new “Footloose” reflects today’s movies filled with horrible crashes, graphic injuries or worse, explosions; overall more violence. After all, this is the era in which we’ve seen the “Final Destination” and “Saw” series; it’s just more graphic these days.
Today’s Ariel dresses skimpier in some scenes than that of the original character. Again, not being set in the ‘80s, the remake is updated for today’s culture and to match what other blockbusters have: more gore, for certain genres, and showing more skin.
However, the look of both films is similar, as both versions reflect the times during which they were made. The original, from 1984, has the ‘80s sound, that cassette tape sound. The remake, although it includes Hip-Hop and digital technology, also features some of the same ‘80s tunes that the original “Footloose” had. Let’s face it; it wouldn’t be “Footloose” without that Kenny Loggins movie theme song.
Other updated aspects include music genres, dance moves and more diverse and modern-looking characters. Ariel’s boyfriend, Chuck Cranston, also offers up a different and surprising sort of challenge to Ren.
Hip-Hop is used in the remake and may be disapproved of by some adults. Dance moves have street style featured in other recent dance movies (“Step Up,” “Honey,” “Save the Last Dance”).
Willard’s girlfriend, Rusty, was played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the original, while in the remake, they are a couple in an inter-racial relationship. The preacher’s wife, Vi, originally played by Dianne Wiest, had a more old-fashioned hair style and attire; Andie MacDowell steps into this role with an altogether modernized look.
As for Chuck’s challenge, let’s just say that a little more is involved in it this time around for Ren. More characters take part, adding to the danger of the activity in which Ren proves he isn’t afraid.
The two main characters and their stories are easily related to, as anyone can say they went through that “misunderstood-by-adults” phase. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t come from a big city and land in a small town like Ren. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a preacher’s kid like Ariel. Their generation and what they love is misunderstood, criticized and outlawed by their elders and the police. In real life, the younger generation’s pop culture is often disapproved by members of older generations as well.
That may be why a remake in this case holds up, simply having that “I can relate to that” factor. It speaks to the clash that happens between people who are even just one generation apart.
To find out more about the cast and trivia of the well-loved original and its high-energy remake, check out IMDB.