'Footloose' shows familiar steps (and missteps), critics say
If there's one thing film critics agree on regarding the "Footloose" remake, directed by Craig Brewer ("Hustle & Flow") and starring Kenny Wormald in the role Kevin Bacon made famous in 1984, it's that the movie is very, very similar to the original. Whether that's good or a bad might depend on how you feel about the first film.
The Times' Kenneth Turan notes that entire scenes, lines of dialogue and iconic objects are lifted from the 1984 version and says the new "Footloose" is "not so much a remake as a renovation." Turan writes, "That means that the clothes are tighter, the bodies more toned, the dancing hotter, the characters more racially diverse, the sexual context more obvious. But underneath it all still beats the shameless heart of a by-the-numbers diversion that acts as if these particular dots have never been connected before."
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times says 2011's "Footloose" is so similar to the original that he was tempted to reprint his review of that film. Ebert adds that Wormald doesn't have Bacon's charisma and concludes, "The film's message is: A bad movie, if faithfully remade, will produce another bad movie."
For New York Times film critic A.O. Scott, what impresses most about the remake "is that it handles its shaky, shopworn premise with sensitivity and conviction." Scott commends second fiddle Miles Teller — "With his scarecrow limbs and slack features, Mr. Teller has a natural charisma that is both comic and kind of sexy" — but deems the dance numbers "woefully inadequate." Ultimately, the film fails to strike the right balance between silly and sincere, Scott says, and "Somehow 'Footloose' never finds its rhythm."
In a glowing Movieline review, Stephanie Zacharek calls "Footloose" "less a movie for today’s audiences than for yesterday’s — and I mean that in the good way." It's a pop movie unafraid to be traditional, even cliched. Zacharek writes, "while respectful of the original, [the new 'Footloose'] is bold about staking its claim as an old-fashioned entertainment for the age of the iPod."
Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle says some things have changed in 27 years but not many: "so much has stayed about the same that the transplant from 1984 to 2011 is a breeze." LaSalle says the new version should appeal to new audiences and fans of the original. And while he agrees with Ebert that Wormald is no Kevin Bacon, he does think he is a better dancer.
Though Time's Richard Corliss finds the remake to be "virtually the same movie" as its predecessor, he seems to be somewhat charmed by it, if reluctantly. Corliss speculates that "Brewer must have convinced himself that a schlocky old movie would speak eloquently to today's teens," and "About half of the time, he pulls it off." Corliss also praises a strong cast and adds, "maybe there is something timeless in anachronism."
Fans of the original "Footloose" and of old-fashioned pop flicks might want to save a dance for this one; for others, there are always other partners out there.
— Oliver Gettell
Photo: Miles Teller and Kenny Wormald in "Footloose." Credit: K.C. Bailey / Paramount Pictures.