It is a universally acknowledged truth that it is humanly impossible to hear the Kenny Loggins song, Footloose, and not want to dance. Now 27 years later, that song, from the film of the same name, is about to get toes tapping once more with the release of the remake.
Craig Brewer's film is actually more of a cover version, one which remains true to the melody and without the Idol contestant vocal gymnastics; he knows what works and what the people want. Brewer (who made the excellent Hustle and Flow, in 2005) also understands that even when remaking a film, there are some things you don't mess with, and Kenny Loggins' song is just one of them.
The new Footloose (Footloose 2011? Footloose 2.0?) opens with the adolescents of Bomont living it up to the Loggins hit (they obviously live in a parallel world where the song exists but the film that inspired it doesn't?) on the outskirts of town, before a group of them, intoxicated and carefree, drive off and headlong into a semi trailer.
That tragedy inspires the town Council, lead by Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) who lost his only son in the accident, to enact a curfew for the Bomont youth and the outlawing of dancing.
The rest of the film plays out virtually scene-for-scene like the original, with the arrival in town of a young man with an aversion to authority and a desire to dance. Ren McCormick (Kenny Wormald), a Boston boy mourning the death of his mother, comes to stay with his uncle (Ray McKinnon) and aunt (Kim Dickens), and not only falls for the Reverend's daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough), but sets about challenging the town's oppressive anti-dance laws, assisted by the cowboy-hatted boy who can't dance, Willard (Miles Teller, last seen in Rabbit Hole and best in show here).
If you wanted to, you could read the new Footloose as a post-9-11 parable - in the wake of an extreme disaster, laws are enacted which, whilst intended to protect, stifle and oppress - but that would be giving its creators (the new screenplay is by Brewer and original scribe, Dean Pitchford) far too much credit, and the film a heavier burden than it already has: that of living up to the original.
As it is, the new Footloose is pretty good on its feet, barely putting a foot wrong and hitting all the right notes. It doesn't necessarily distinguish itself from the original in any meaningful way - and granted, die hard fans of the Kevin Bacon classic will not so readily see let alone embrace this admittedly unnecessary remake - but nor does it tarnish the memory of the 1984 film.