As we all know, the mainstream movie business is mostly despicable. Run by the world's biggest corporations and beholden only to shareholders, they create products that lack imagination, intelligence and real feeling. They seek to "entertain" a broad audience of undemanding viewers who, instead of voting with their money and only giving it to bold, original ideas, have become conditioned to accepting 120 minutes of sparkly amnesia, a temporary escape from how crappy the world outside the multiplex has become.
Hollywood grinds out remakes and reboots and sequels so quickly and with so much aggression that it's almost as if they actually hate the people who buy tickets. And they routinely take well-known "properties" (bloodless corporate-speak for "old movies you love") and update them horribly, soiling the fond memories the original films' audiences collectively share.
And now they've done it again. To Footloose. Now, it's not like Footloose is an important movie in any real way. It was a dorky popcorn epic, a soundtrack album with moving pictures of young Kevin Bacon and that shock of hair he had back in 1984, a corny teens-vs.-uptight-religious-adults movie about the universal adolescent need to dance (aka have pretend-sex, because the old-school Southern Baptists weren't wrong on that count, no matter what anybody says) and listen to music their parents hate. And to quote Anthony Michael Hall in 16 Candles, I'm about "to seriously ruin my reputation as a dude," not to mention any reputation I ever had as a person that you might trust when it comes to film, by telling you that this absolutely unnecessary 2011 update of Footloose is...um... awesome.
I have not been kidnapped and replaced by an Anti-Dave. This is not a goof. And yes, I know, it's wrong just on principle. I get that. I hate all these damn remakes, too. I almost hate myself for liking it.
They're not going to stop pointlessly remaking these films. You can whine about it all day, but the machine needs to keep producing. Therefore, they might as well do it affectionately, robustly and employ people who care about retaining the spirit of the originals in one way or another. So either accidentally or on-purpose, that's what they went and did. Director Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow) knows the sweet spots of the original film and he plays with them in a way that'll push the pleasure centers in the brains of longtime fans. Chunks of original dialogue embedded into the new story and memorable dance sequences recreated and amplified are designed to ingratiate themselves to the diehards while spinning everything in a new direction for young audiences. Songs from the first movie are heard, both in their original versions (you get Kenny Loggins and Deniece Williams -- those people used to be pop stars, kids) and in happily not-terrible covers by contemporary country artists like Blake Shelton.
It'll also win over the next generation of kids (mostly tweens -- dirtier dancing aside, this isn't exactly gritty) who won't realize until much, much later in life that their teen rebellion was exactly like all the teen rebellions that came before. It just showed up wearing different clothes.
Newcomer Kenny Wormald even keeps a straight face while re-creating Kevin Bacon's anger-gymnastics in that abandoned warehouse, which is pretty tough to do after Andy Samberg's under-appreciated, beat-for-beat takedown in Hot Rod. So it's just as cheesy as you remember it being the first time around. But it's also just as exuberant and silly and joyful. You can't really ask much more from something you didn't ask to exist in the first place. I'm not here to tell you to give in or just go with it. But if you do, you'll leave smiling. Sometimes the machine spits out something good.