A couple nights ago, the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin called forth its armies of movie lovers for a special Girlie Night screening of Footloose, a remake of the 1984 musical drama about a small town that bans dancing in the wake of a weird tragedy. Director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Black Snake Moan) and Footloose star Kenny Wormald were on hand to introduce the film and answer some audience questions after the screening.
The festivities kicked off with a drink special, cheekily dubbed the Texas Two-Step – a mixture of 512 Wit, a local favorite wheat brew with citrus notes (Blue Moon is garbage in comparison), and Maine Root Gingerbeer. The Two-Step was a bit of a misstep (my throat is still burning), but the “Dance Your Ass Off” pink t-shirts handed out before the film were delightful. Audience members were asked by host Sarah Pitre to don their sweet new apparel and show off their best dance poses for a group photo.
[Check out images from the event in our Footloose Invades the Alamo Drafthouse gallery]
The activities didn’t end there: Craig Brewer and Kenny Wormald were brought up front to judge an impromptu dance contest. Each contestant was asked to introduce themselves and tell the audience their “signature move.” These ranged from the bewildering (“butterfly”) to the contemporary (“booty shake”) to the just plain absurd (“Michael Jackson” – that’s not really a move, you guys). The lucky contestants shimmied and shook to the original Kenny Loggins “Footloose” track before the audience chose the winner via applause -- because this is a democracy, but also because we were secretly choosing our token male sacrifice, as is Girlie Night tradition. He will be missed.
Mr. Brewer gave us a brief show and tell before the screening, as he relayed his childhood growing up in the south, complete with giant pictures of a young, drama nerd Brewer and his mullet-wearing, mustachioed cousin Jody, who seemingly knows a thing or two about living, judging by his intense denim vest. More importantly, Brewer explained his love of the original Footloose. Compared against his previous movies, one might wonder just what something like Black Snake Moan could possibly have in common with Footloose aside from the southern setting.
After the screening Sarah led the audience in one of the Drafthouse’s notoriously absurd Q&A sessions, where Brewer reacted with nothing short of tact and graciousness to the crowd. A sampling of the questions and statements made last night:
“So, you making Footloose is like Zack Snyder making Watchmen…”
“I do a lot of IMDBing, so can you tell me why there’s a sudden surge in remakes?”
“I think movies nowadays are too gory. I was raised in the '30s and '40s, so I appreciate you making a family-friendly film.”
That last comment came from an adorable elderly woman, who also unceremoniously ended the Q&A, apropos of nothing, with, “I just want to thank you on behalf of everyone for coming here and sharing your film with us.” No, thank you, elderly ambassador of Austin. You are truly this town’s hidden treasure.
Amidst the various questions regarding Kevin Bacon (who is not in the Footloose remake, so I apologize if you’ve been reading this for a mention of Mr. Bacon and now feel as though you’ve been wasting your time when you could, you know, be IMDBing him instead), Brewer spoke with astonishing admiration for the original film, relating the inspiration it gave him as a young drama kid and assuring the audience that he took control of this film in particular because he cared for it and the possibility of inspiring another generation so greatly that he couldn’t bear someone like the director of High School Musical jeopardizing this important story.
We were also guaranteed that every person involved in the production -- from the script to the set design -- loved the original just as much as Brewer, and they worked to delivery a solid, fun remake that could stand as an homage, a modern twist on a classic, and ultimately a love letter to Footloose. Please enjoy a brief video recap of the evening, which is right below the following words:
Girlie Night is an ongoing series at the Alamo Drafthouse, featuring films old and new, from Mean Girls and She’s All That to Big and Dirty Dancing. More info here!
Footloose stars Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Miles Teller, and Dennis Quaid, and releases nationwide on October 14th.
(Editor's note: Ms. Hayes is on a strict embargo regarding her specific opinions on the new Footloose, but I'm not. She told me it was "realllly good." -- Scott Weinberg)