On the other hand, we know it's only a movie and the (non-cgi) actors and actresses are actual people. So I show you this picture:
But maybe we're reaching a stage in American culture where we don't care anymore either?
Director: Craig Brewer
Lead Guy and Girl: Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough
Lead Girl's Dad/Lead Guy's Antagonist: Dennis Quaid
Quaid's Wife: Andie MacDowell
Kenny's Buddy: Miles Teller
Kenny's Other Buddy: Ser'Darius Blain
Hough's Rough Southern Older Boyfriend: Patrick John Flueger
When I saw Transformers I was 20. I had just finished my sophomore year of college. I wasn't so far removed from high school. When I saw Michael Bay having camera sex with Megan Fox, I was just like "Wow, Megan Fox is hot."
Four years later out comes Footloose. And Craig Brewer has camera sex with Julianne Hough a number of times (mostly early in the film). On the one hand, I know Julianne Hough is Julianne Hough. She's 23. She's hot. On the other hand, she's playing a high school senior. So when she's booty shaking in short shorts I thought "what if she really was 17? Would I feel so comfortable watching this? Could I enjoy this or would I feel...wrong?"
But then that got me thinking: what if I was a high school girl, would I aspire to this?
But then that made me think: wait, don't some high school girls already aspire to this?
And that left me thinking about a Film and Culture class I took in college. We discussed how films are reflections of the time period they are made, whether they are meant to be or not. This is true of all art. Even art that isn't set in modern times or even on this planet, like sci-fi. The sci-fi of the 1970s is markedly different in its speculation than the sci-fi of the 2000s. The sci-fi of the 1970s reflects the technology that was out, that wasn't, the fears of the time, the concerns, the dreams. These things change, evolve, dissolve.
What's interesting about Footloose is that the overall plot is still applicable: dancing is part of human nature. It's roots stretch from today to the bible, from the bible to our tribal, language-less beginnings. To revoke the freedom of dance is to deny something that is essential to human being.
Not only is the plot still applicable, 27 years after the original the conflicts still hold true: city life vs country life. security vs freedom. older generation vs younger generation. dad vs kid trying to date dad's daughter.
The themes still hold true: youth wants to thrive, shackling people won't stop them, dance is a powerful form of expression, we can often react in the extreme, laws are meant to be challenged, religion can be as empowering as it is cloistering.
But the details are dramatically different. For example: Both movies feature "illegal" dancing at a local food joint. In the original, there's one tape deck. People are dancing individually while they talk or cook or eat or play arcade games. Ariel, Hough's character (remember this is the 1984 version, so the actress is Lori Singer), is wearing a long sleeve blouse and...probably a skirt? I don't know about the skirt since the ENTIRE scene only shows her from the waist up. And she's kind of jumping around the car and making googly eyes at her boyfriend. Everything about the scene is innocent and sort of goofy.
Compare that to the picture at top: Hough in low-cut tank top and those little shorts. She doesn't merely jump around. She starts grinding a parking meter (maybe it was just a pole), shaking that ass, and causing blood pressure spikes in the viewing vicinity. Forget the tape deck. We have CDs and SPEAKER SYSTEMS. The surround sound is BOOMING. And the people aren't dancing individually. They've formed up in a big circle in the parking lot and are taking turns dashing into the middle and showing off. People are freak dancing, jerk dancing, straight booty shaking.
Why remakes like Footloose are kind of cool is because by comparing and contrasting the original with a modernized remake, we have another means of seeing how society as a whole has progressed.
2011 Footloose shows us, by comparing it to the 1984 version, how, in American society, the notion of dance has changed, how conversation has changed, how humor has changed, how character-types have evolved, how fashion has evolved, how challenging someone's manhood has amped up (1984 = tractor race. 2011 = (punked-out) school bus racing with elements of destruction derby). And how high school sex appeal is part of today's American culture.
Did I Like It:
I'd never seen the original. So I had no idea what to expect. There were cheesy parts. There are scenes that are contrived. Like the scene where this kid gives Wormwald a joint in the school library and Wormald doesn't want it and tries to give it back but the librarian sees this and Wormald gets in trouble. The scene only exists to get Wormald in trouble so that there's more tension between him and the authority figures around him. But, you know what, I'm okay with this. So many stories--not just films, but novels, short stories, poems, plays--are so...perfectly constructed that we know what's going to happen. Like, had there been a shot of this kid smoking a joint earlier and looking at Wormald, we'd know "okay, something will happen between the two of them." I liked that some workshop class or MFA professor would see that scene and be like "This is bad, you need to set this up better." You don't. Yeah it feels contrived, Joint-Kid serves one purpose and is gone, but this is fine. On the other end of the spectrum is a feeling of predictability and Joint-Kid is forced into more of the movie than I care about. There's a middle ground to discuss, but this isn't the place for that.
I liked Wormald. I liked Hough. I don't normally like Dennis Quaid but 3/4ths of the way through the movie I was like "Yeah, Quaid's okay." I haven't seen Andie MacDowell in a movie since Groundhog Day. She didn't do too much, but I was happy to see her.
I hate country music but didn't mind listening to it in this. I liked the dance scenes. Some of the dialogue made me laugh. I liked Teller even though his character was more of a caricature and would sometimes remind me "hey, I'm watching a movie".
I think my favorite part is at the end of the scene where Wormald and Flueger are racing Busses of Death. Wormald's brakes go out and he t-bones Flueger's bus. Both busses flip. Everyone is okay. But...fuck dude, Wormald, you just wrecked two busses. You could have seriously hurt Flueger. Flueger's probably pissed because they were his dad's busses. And because you just collided with him at high speed. He already hates you because he knows his GF likes you. So I'm sitting there expecting this big argument where Flueger comes over and confronts Wormald. I want to hear what Flueger says, how Wormald defends himself. But, to no avail. Instead of showing this conversation, the film cuts to later, when the two aren't even around each other. These are the little moments I wish movies would explore. But they're also one of my favorite parts of any film because I can just make up what happened.
Flueger: "Man, you just destroyed my bus!"
Wormald: "Suck it."
Flueger: "Man, you just destroyed my bus!"
Wormald: "I'm gonna destroy that ass later."
Flueger: "Dude! That was awesome! We just wrecked these busses!"
Wormald: "So...you're not mad at me?"
Flueger: "Nah, man, you're pretty cool, you did well."
Wormald: "Thanks. I was scared pretty shitless but it was fun."
F: "Man, you have no idea. Look, we'll get these fixed up, come out next week, we have an official event every Saturday, let's see what you got."
W: "Really? That'd be awesome. Are you sure? I mean, we did just hate each other like five minutes ago."
F: "We're guys."
W: "Hell yeah."
F: "Wanna get a beer?"
Wormald looks at Hough.
F: "Whoa, did you just check out my girlfriend. I thought that was over?"
W: "Why would you think that?"
and then they start yelling and Wormald leaves, cut
The dancing was good. The angry dance made me laugh though. I left the theater happy.
What It's Good For:
-couples (enough stuff for men, enough for women)
-staring at Hough
-driving MFA kids crazy
-if you hate watching people dance...
-if you don't like happy things, like you're really cynical or bitter, you may hate this?
% Character / % Actor's personality
-Brewer: Hustle & Flow
-Hough: Dancing With the Stars
-Quaid: Far From Heaven; Any Given Sunday
-MacDowell: Groundhog Day
-Teller: Rabbit Hole
-Dancing movies: Step up; Dirty Dancing; the original one of this; Singin' in the Rain; Save the Last Dance