Footloose: Now Bacon-Free

Joy Watson - Theatre Crasher. (Tom Bateman/AQ)

Somewhere in the depths of a Hollywood Starbucks, Kevin Bacon is probably sulking.

Not because the film industry inexplicably decided to remake his breakout movie Footloose, but because they didn’t even ask him to cameo. Apart from this lapse in judgement – and that I origi­nally went out to see 50-50 – this movie barely aroused my rage once.

There’s nothing Canadians love more than eating carbs and laughing over wacky American laws like the ones dramatized in Footloose. We delight in Alabama’s law against wearing “any fake moustache that may cause laughter in church” and that it’s illegal to molest butterflies in California. Head North, butterfly molesters, you’re free from persecution!

Footloose takes place in a small town called Beaumont, where laws instigated by the local reverend (Jaws 3D’s Dennis Quaid), make it illegal for young people to dance unsupervised. This is a re­action to a deadly car crash in the town’s past when five teens died after drinking, driving, and yes, crumping to Kenny Loggins.

Clearly this town is in need of a hero, a device that arrives in the form of an out-of-towner named Ren, played by Kenny Wormald. The audience clues into this with the help of the country singer wailing about heroes in the background as Ren unpacks his hipster-James Dean wardrobe. Is there anything less subtle than country music? The answer you’re looking for is no. Is there anything worse than hipsters? Math and sausages, obviously.

After dispensing with the usual city-sticks culture clashes (um, no wireless in the barn?), Ren gets down to the business of easily making some multicultural and supportive friends who put aside all their own previous issues to assist him in reinstating the boogie in Beaumont. He’s up against the law, the church and the mighty pleated khakis of Dennis Quaid!

The cast consists of mainly unknowns, which makes it easier to ignore them and focus on the dancing – of which, damnit, there’s not enough. I know there’s a plot to resolve but when I go to Foot­loose I am willing to sacrifice character development in favour of gyration. (Similarly, a woman in the U.S. recently sued producers because there wasn’t enough driving in Drive.)

The main fault of this remake is the lack of romantic chemistry between the two leads Ren and Ariel, played by Julianne Hough. Ren is too honourable to be interested in a girl whose defining trait is playing chicken with oncoming trains. Is that what the boys are going for these days? However, all that is forgotten after watching her scream, “I’m not even a VIRGIN!” at her preacher father on the pulpit. Relatable AND awesome!

While quite similar to the 1984 original, the main difference is in the modernization of the soundtrack. I’ve never seen a movie where hip-hop and country are so comfortably and enthusiastically co-mingled. And while the dancing is a bit more risqué now, it’s nothing that’ll make your monocle fall off in horror.

The acting is sub par and the story’s shallow, but if you need a mojo-boost after too many midterms, kick off those Sunday shoes and get Footloose. (Or stress yourself out further by watching that hand-sanitizer ad Contagion; that’s your future neurosis.)

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