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FOOTLOOSE Review: Everybody Cut Loose...

Although you may not actually be going as far as kicking off your Sunday shoes whilst watching this, cut loose and enjoy the pure cheese!

rating: 3

The original 80s film has a cult following, but was a remake really necessary? No, they rarely are but the new generation needs a Footloose, apparently. Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) is transplanted from Boston to the small southern town of Bomont, where he experiences a heavy dose of culture shock. A few years prior, the community was rocked by a tragic accident that killed five teenagers after a night out and Bomont€™s local councilmen and the beloved Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) responded by implementing ordinances that prohibit loud music and dancing. Yes, that is still the plot. Not one to bow to the status quo, Ren challenges the ban, revitalising the town and falling in love with the minister€™s troubled daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough) in the process€ Footloose is a film that can't be taken seriously. If it is, it looses all it's sense of fun. There's no denying that this is a complete an utter cheese-fest (I was half expecting to be offered a lump of Cheddar as I left the cinema!), but there's also something distinctly enjoyable about it too. Most films that predominantly centre on a solitary brooding character are often little more than teen angst fluff. Whilst Footloose is certainly no masterpiece, it's more than a fluffy film just about dancing. Probably created with intentions of inspiring teens to stick it to the man, it offers something more than most teen movies. Whilst grandiose objectives like the latter may not be entirely successful, the film does promote some positive messages. Throughout the course of the narrative, issues such as self expression, coming to terms with grief and loss, living up to parental expectations and standing up for what you believe in are touched upon. The primary message is certainly about loss. Both lead characters have recently lost someone close to them and have found that the best way to cope with it is through self-expression. One scene perfectly demonstrates this, when Ren - incised by his principal bringing up his dearly departed mother - he storms off to an abandoned warehouse to dance off his anger. The scene is cringe-worthily cheesy to begin with (whoever suggested that Kenny Wormald should attempt a little rap at the beginning needs their head examined!), but by the end it becomes apparent that dancing is an excellent way for Ren to let off steam. Amidst all of the teen drama and anguish there are some extremely funny moments. Predominantly provided by Ren's buddy Willard, all manner of mishaps and comic blunders help relieve the film of any dull moments or from becoming too heavy. The best sequence in the entire film has to be when Willard learns to dance - quite simply; it's nearly as funny as the lads€™ dance in The Inbetweeners Movie! Directed with a proficient flare by Craig Brewer (who's also responsible for the more superior Hustle and Flow and Black Snake Moan ), the film is not visually spectacular but engaging enough to hold viewers' attentions. The most successful aspect of the production is the interesting blend of different genres of music. The film opens with the massive, eponymous 80s track by Kenny Loggins (which has arguably garnered more longevity than the film itself!), but there's oodles of country and western, pop and hip hop thrown in for good measure. This allows the characters to break out into all forms of dancing, rather than just one style and it's particularly refreshing to watch a film with it in that's not centred on a battle or competition. The performances are varied, but for the most part are better than what's likely to be expected. Kenny Wormald brings a likeable rebelliousness to Ren McCormack that allows the character to appeal to all viewers. Wormald manages to avoid turning Ren into an irritating troublemaker who deliberately flies in the face of authority; instead giving a performance that builds audience support to the point where 99.9% of viewers would be happy to support his cause by the end of the film. The actor is a skilled dancer and some of his moves are visually impressive without ruining the image that Ren is just an average teenager (and not a professional dancer). Dennis Quaid portrays the town Reverend who moved the town to make dancing illegal in the wake of his son's death. Quaid gives a good performance that highlights the torture his character feels over the loss of his son and whilst he's the chief antagonist within the film, the actor never makes him completely unlikeable. Julianne Hough plays the Reverend€™s daughter, an equally rebellious character as Ren. Hough, however, never really convinces and her character, Ariel, only ever seems like she rebels to annoy her father. Whilst the narrative suggests that it's a way to mask the pain she feels over her brother's death, Hough only achieves in making Ariel an irritating little child who appears to enjoy throwing her toys out of her pram. The country and western singer and Dancing with the Stars personality is really only convincing in the dancing sequences, where she proves she can strut her stuff. Apart from in these moments, Hough gives an underwhelmingly wooden and stilted performance. The real star of the show comes in the form of Miles Teller as Willard! With astute comic timing and a solid performance, Teller makes Willard the stand out character within the film. Every moment the actor spends on screen is hilarious, with the character's nerdy charm giving the film a little flare and humour. Unfortunately Teller's performance alone cannot elevate the film out of the realms of campy cheese that it so perfectly slots in to, but it does make the film far more enjoyable than it would have been without him! Adequate support comes from the likes of Andie MacDowell (who amusingly says little more than a line for the bulk of the narrative...perhaps she better stick to face cream ads!) and a host of other unknowns, but nobody really sticks out as a great talent. Overall, the film is far from perfect and won't suit all viewers. The heartfelt aspects of the narrative appear rather vacuous at times and the whole thing feels far too sickly sentimental. But a series of comic sequences and better than expected performances mean that Footloose is not a complete write off. Although you may not actually be going as far as kicking off your Sunday shoes whilst watching this, cut loose and enjoy the pure cheese! Footloose opens in the UK and US on Friday.
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Stuart Cummins hasn't written a bio just yet, but if they had... it would appear here.