Movie Review: Footloose
I’m not an expert on movies. I regard myself as just an average movie-goer who likes what she likes, and what I like is a movie that causes me to forget myself and fall into a good story.
The original Footloose was one such movie. No, it wasn’t the greatest movie I’d ever seen, but it is on my list of “I’d see that again”. Sometimes you have to have something against which to compare a thing in order to know how good it really is. The new Footloose movie did that for me. It made me realize just how good the original was.
After learning that my husband had never seen the original, we rented it the other night. I don’t think he was terribly enthusiastic about seeing it, but if it would make me happy, then he’d suck it up and sit through it.
As it turns out, he really liked it. And I know why.
As a side note, I have to say that I was excited about the “New” Footloose coming out because I love, love, LOVE me some dancing movies. Step Up 3D? Yeah, I saw that… and enjoyed the heck out of it. To me, dancing is joy in form. Watching other people dance with joy makes ME feel joy. Who needs drugs when they can get that feeling from something so easy, so fundamental?
Ok, back to the movie. Across the board, I’d recommend the new one, if you like dancing movies like I do. However, if you thought the original was really well done, then don’t bring that with you into the theater because the remake will leave you wanting.
Wanting what, you ask? Connection. The original, although it was about dancing, was not a “dancing” movie, much like Dirty Dancing was not really about dancing… it was about the PEOPLE. It was about the relationships and the connections and the things we do to and for the people we love.
The creators of the Footloose remake went for style over substance. The actors did a fine job with what they were given, but honestly, the writing and story decisions were lacking. It was not a frame-for-frame copy of the original, nor did it need to be; they changed some of the story, and honestly I was ok with that… but there were NO real connections.
For example, in the original, we see Ariel trying to get her father’s attention at home, but he is always working and responds to her as if she’s interrupting him… we see the dissapointment on her face, over and over… we understand why she’s “wild” – she’s dying for attention. In the remake, we never see why she’s dying for it, she tells us she is, which is a weaker choice.
Shaw and Vi? Nothing. In the original, Vi (played by Dianne Wiest) is a shy and quiet woman, who seems like she’d snap in two if you looked at her the wrong way. She defers to her husband and even when she speaks up, its tentative and uncertain (until the end when it really matters). In the remake, Andie MacDowell is too substantive; too confident. The moments when she speaks up are lost because we are not surprised by them.
The dance. The final dance, when everyone is finally allowed to dance without fear of reprisals. In the original, the camera scans the crowd, which is made up of a room full of very reluctant teenagers. No one is talking to each other, a few boys seem like they might be on the verge of asking a girl to dance, and then they wimp out at the last moment. It sets it up brilliantly for when Ren and Ariel finally show up and immediately start dancing, which encourages others to join in. They just needed to see someone else do it… and in the remake, the camera scans the room where we see kids having a fine time, talking and joking around – not dancing, but still. When Ren and Ariel come in, there is no contrast. I think that was the point where I got mad.
I could go on (I really could), but I think I’ll leave the rest unsaid here and let you decide for yourself, if you go see it. I’d love to hear your take on it.