The 1984 movie Footloose featured plenty of teen drinking—a problem that no one seemed to be addressing. Thirty years have done a lot to change our attitudes about underage alcohol consumption, especially when it involves driving.
Unfortunately the new adaptation of Footloose adheres so closely to the original script it paints itself into a time warp when it comes to booze. Despite its prolific use, other issues get all the adult attention. Parents, who watched the first film as teens, will also find a lot of similar content in this remake. The preacher’s promiscuous daughter Ariel Moore (Julianne Hough) often pushes parental limits and engages in dangerous stunts. While less skin is exposed than in the original R-rated movie, sexual innuendo between characters is common.
In the update, Kenny Wormald reprises the role of Ren McCormack played first by Kevin Bacon. He’s a big city kid who moves to small town Bomont to live with his Uncle Wes (Ray McKinnon) and Aunt Lulu (Kim Dickens) after the death of his mother. His loss and subsequent relocation are only made more difficult when he discovers public dancing is prohibited by order of the local town council. Five of Bomont’s outstanding teens, including the son of Reverend Moore (Dennis Quaid), were killed in a car accident. Drinking and distracted driving contributed to the head-on collision but because the students were returning from an out of town dance, the event was blamed and banned.
Three years later, nothing more raucous than a church dance has taken place—though you’d be hard pressed to believe it when you see these kids’ moves at a secret event held at a drive-in movie theater. Only Ren’s cowboy friend Willard (Miles Teller) doesn’t boogie, not because he doesnt want to, but because he can’t.
Pitting two sides against one another, Footloose is a classic tale of teen rebellion with the adults, religion and small town policies clearly in the wrong. Ren, the outsider, is accused of bringing trouble to the community after a student tries to peg him as a drug dealer. Yet the local adolescents are involved in fistfights, abusive beatings and illegal activities (such as faking their way into a big city bar). And these indiscretions are supposed to be viewed as less serious because they are accompanied by a foot stomping musical score.
Although Ren legally approaches city council to revoke the bylaw, many of the daily activities he and the other teens engage in are far from law abiding. As well, the Reverend and town council’s intentions to forestall another serious accident are admirable, but in the midst of setting down the rules about their kids’ diversions they fail to address the bigger issues afflicting their children.
Unfortunately some fancy footwork in the opening credits, a lively musical accompaniment and dance moves by talented performers don’t do enough to make the new Footloose an attractive option for family viewing.