Footloose (2011): Movie Review
It’s a funny thing. The idea behind movie remakes never really bothered me until Hollywood started remaking movies that came out when I was a kid. They could remake any movie from the 1930′s-60′s and I just wouldn’t care, but now the studio executives are green-lighting all these needless remakes of my generations films. I am not sure what bothers me more, the fact that the films were so awesome to begin with and should not be tampered with or is it because these remakes keep reminding me how old I am. As a matter of fact, I am writing this review on my 38th birthday. Be it as it may, there are crappy remakes, decent remakes and there are good remakes. Aside from a few gripes, I will have to say that the new FOOTLOOSE is a decent remake.
Just like in the original film, young Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) moves to a small town to stay with his aunt and uncle after his mother passes away. Ren quickly realizes things are out of place in this town when he gets issued a ticket and has to appear in court for playing music too loud in his car. Soon after that, he finds out from his new high school friends, which include the attention seeking preachers daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough) and the good ol’ country boy Willard (Miles Teller) that public displays of dancing have been outlawed in the town. This is terrible news for a boy who loves to get his boogie on.
Unlike the original 1984 film, this time around we get to see the actual town tragedy, that caused the dancing and drinking ban within the towns limits. Now the teens have to sneak off and dance where the law will not find them. The film’s plot alone in today’s day and age would make anyone roll their eyes and unfortunately, it makes the film feel a lot more silly than it did almost three decades ago.
The film still manages to work, thanks to director Craig Brewer (HUSTLE & FLOW, BLACK SNAKE MOAN). Right from the opening credits, it is obvious that Brewer has a lot of respect for the original film and feels that if he is going to remake a classic, do not change the best parts of the 1984 film. Having said that, there were times when I wish Brewer would have used a bit more creativity when it came to re-creating some of the original film’s more memorable dance moments. Ren’s solo dance number in the abandoned warehouse in which he is blowing off steam in a dance of rage, seems almost identical to the one for the original film. The montage of Willard learning to dance and even the films prom finale seem the same, granted I have not seen the original in over 20 years.
Another thing this remake has going for it, is the great supporting cast. Dennis Quaid’s Rev. Shaw Moore is less eccentric than John Lithgow’s performance, which works better for this update. I also loved Ray McKinnon as Ren’s uncle Wes, but just like in the original film, it’s Willard that is the most fun to watch. Originally played by the late Chris Penn, newcomer Miles Teller is a whole lot of fun to watch.
I am still standing by the fact that this is a remake that just did not need to happen, but it could have turned out a whole lot worse. With good direction by Brewer and a good cast on board, this is much better than most “dance” films of the last decade. If you have seen the 80′s version and loved it, there is no major reason to go see the remake, but if you have never seen the original and just like to watch stuff that is recent, then I have no doubt that you will be entertained by the 2011 FOOTLOOSE.
By: Marc Ferman
The Big Year: Movie Review
Due to the absence of the film’s actual plot in the trailers, 20th Century Fox must have known that the general public would have no desire to shell out ten dollars to see a movie about birders. What are birders? They are people who travel the world and count the different species of birds that they find. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if birding wasn’t such a large part of the film. Unfortunately it’s the whole movie and THE BIG YEAR only barely gets by due to its extremely likeable cast.
THE BIG YEAR follows three fellow birders. The first is Brad (Jack Black), a lonely guy who hates his job and has nothing going in his life aside from the dream of birding. Next comes Stu (Steve Martin), a successful CEO who wants to retire and pursue his dream of birding. Finally we have Kenny (Owen Wilson), a married man who neglects his wife in favor of keeping his status at the world’s best birder. The only thing these three men have in common is their pursuit of The Big Year, an event in which the person who spots the largest number of bird species wins, even though there is no actual prize for winning. As a matter of fact, proof of actually spotting the birds is not required. Everything is based on the honor system. If a birder wanted to cheat and make up a high number, they actually could.
The biggest problem with THE BIG YEAR is that bird watching is just not interesting and following people around the country to watch them watch birds is even less interesting. On the plus side, it does help that the people you are following are Steve Martin, Jack Black, & Owen Wilson. Surprisingly, Martin & Black are quite reserved here, pretty much playing it straight. The two stars are better known for their larger than life antics on screen, but the more low-key approach works here. Wilson delivers the same fast-talking performance that we get from him time and again, but it’s Martin and Back who are the film’s real stars. Martin also gets the film’s few decent lines, my favorite being when Stu spots two of his top executives (played by Joel McHale & Kevin Pollak) in a landfill while everyone is looking for birds, and he points at the execs and yells, “look everyone, vulchers.” I think that was one of the only times I laughed out loud during the film.
Director David Frankel (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, MARLEY & ME) tries to deliver a sophisticated comedy, shows us some beautiful locations and gives us a great cast that also includes supporting players like Rosamund Pike, Rashida Jones, Tim Blake Nelson, Anjelica Houston, Brian Dennehy, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Anderson, & more. The story just falls flat.
THE BIG YEAR is not a bad movie — it’s probably the best movie about bird watchers that I have ever seen (it’s the only one, actually) — but your enjoyment of the film will probably rely on how much you are into birds. I can’t recommend that you go out to the theater to see THE BIG YEAR, but if you are a fan of the Martin, Black, & Wilson, then it’s good enough to check out on DVD at home or on cable. Could have been worse, they could have cast Brendan Fraser and Kevin James in the film and had all the birds find a way to throw things at their testicles.
By: Marc Ferman