Footloose (2011) (Blu-ray)

March 15, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Anyone who reads this site with any regularity knows that I’m not really a big fan of re-makes. Unfortunately Hollywood doesn’t feel the same way as they seem to be a never-ending source of “new” material. As I’ve stated so many times in the past, if they’re done right – no problem. This is the case with Ocean’s Eleven, a much more enjoyable endeavor than the Sinatra version. It is a bit hard to believe that it’s been nearly three decades since the original Footloose came out. Starring a then relatively unknown Kevin Bacon (with only National Lampoon’s Animal House to his credit), this is the movie that literally put him on the map. The rest, as they say, is history. So here we are in 2011 (actually 2012, but for the purposes of this review we’ll say it’s 2011) and we’ve got a movie by the same name that looks to be a literal re-make of the original. Let’s see if looks can be deceiving or if there’s something worth watching.

Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) has just lost his mother. He’s coming down from Boston to Georgia to live with some relatives and the phrase “fish out of water” comes to mind. The small town of Bomort has had a recent tragedy in which five high school students were killed after a night of partying. As a result, the town has outlawed drinking, dancing and loud music – essentially everything teenagers like to do. It takes Ren some time to soak this in, but after meeting Ariel (Julianne Hough) his wheels start to turn. As Ren’s feelings for Ariel start to bloom, he’s reminded by her father (Dennis Quaid) of the dangers and perils of drinking and dancing. This only adds fuel to the fire as he’s bound and determined to be heard. Will it only be a victory for Ren or the entire town if there is, indeed, dancing once again?

While not an exact replica of the original, this “updated” version of Footloose doesn’t veer too much from the 1984 version. Granted the Walkman has been replaced by an iPod and even the same VW Bug and skinny ties make their appearance. Admittedly this wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I enjoyed the original so it’d make sense that I’d enjoy this one. Ren is from Boston as opposed to Chicago and I think the back story at the beginning did help a bit, but aside from that it’s pretty much the same. Dennis Quaid takes over the John Lithgow role and Andie MacDowell is under-utilized in her role as the doting wife. Maybe there’s a rhyme or reason as to why these movies kept being re-made, but I can’t figure it out. Does it really take doing a movie all over again to get the same message across? I guess so. Despite the blatant similarities to the original, this version wasn’t as poorly received as I’d have thought. Still, I’ll take Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer any day of the week (and twice on Sunday, of course).

Video: How does it look?

One good thing about a re-make is that, undoubtedly, the technical aspects will be better. And in the case of Footloose it rings true as the 2.40:1 AVC HD image does look leaps and bounds better than the original. Keep in mind that the movie takes place in the deep south, so everyone always seems to have a slight glisten on their skin. Flesh tones seem to be a bit on the overcooked side, but I will say that it makes Julianne Hough’s eyes pop all the more (hardly a comparison to Lori Singer, though). Fine detail looks impressive and contrast and black levels seem to be within normal parameters. To be honest, this is a day and date Blu-ray release and it delivers pretty much how we’d expect it to. It’s a nice-looking film.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is a major step up from the original and there’s plenty of music to go around. We’re even treated to the original versions of “Footloose” and “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” circa the original. Dialogue is strong and clear, we can hear every bit of twang in Willard’s vocals. LFE are used from time to time as well. There’s a pretty decent-sounding car chase/wreck scene that makes use of all the speakers and the ending dance scene is the crème de le crème of the film. As you’d expect, a movie based on music and dancing sounds pretty darn good on Blu-ray.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The audio commentary by Craig Brewer is actually worth a listen as Brewer tells us of his love for the original, what needed to change in order to reach a new generation and some of the challenges of the production as a whole. There are also five deleted scenes with optional commentary and a music video. Moving onto the Blu-ray exclusives we find “Jump Back: Re-Imaging ‘Footloose‘” which is essentially a slew of cast and crew interviews as they discuss the challenges of re-making a film that’s been such a standard cult classic for the past three decades. “Everybody Cut: The Stars of Footloose” focuses on the main characters, why they were cast and what they bring to their respective roles. “Dancing with the Footloose Stars” shows the focus on choreography and it’s also a pun as star Julianne Hough got her start on television’s Dancing with the Stars. We get a rap with Emily Whitcomb and two more music videos, one from Blake Shelton and the other from Ella Mae Brown. There’s also a DVD version of the film as well as a digital copy for your portable device(s).

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