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A new Footloose film is set to some out this October and fans of the first film are concerned. Originally released in 1984, it had mixed reviews at the box office, but was still popular enough to gross $80,035,402. Starring Kevin Bacon, the soundtrack became a classic hit, and the film became an important part of great 80s movies. It was especially liked for its catchy soundtrack and fun dancing.
Recently, more and more movies are being remade for the next generation. Usually, old films that the current generation has little knowledge about are picked, recast, and sent back to the big screen. One of the reasons this happens is because advancing technology has allowed for greater special effects, and because it’s a gambit to make money off of a popular old film by getting people to see a newer and—supposedly—better version of their classic favorite. In this case, director Craig Brewer, loved the first film and simply wanted to see a new version of it up on the big screen.
The new movie has a similar plot to the original. It is still about a slightly rebellious teenager who comes to a town that has a dancing ban. He falls for the preacher’s daughter, and he tries to change the law to make public dancing legal. There are some differences, however. The new version has moved locations from a mid-western farming town to a Southern town with the same name.
It is set in modern times, but with elements that make it an eclectic mix of generations. Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormwald) dresses like a 1950s greaser and drives an old yellow Volkswagen Beetle, but many of the other characters dress more modern.
The music is also a combination of several styles. A number of classics from the original are back such as the title “Footloose” and “Let’s Hear it for the Boy,” but Brewer has also included some hip-hop tracks, and even some jazz. Kenny Wormwald, in an interview with Jen Yomato on www.movieline.com, explains how Brewer wanted to keep the spirit of the original while adding elements that would make it relatable to his younger viewers.
He recounted his excitement over the angry dancing scene similar to the one Kevin Bacon shot in the mill being included (sometimes referred to as punch dancing), as well as the wide variety of new music and dances.
This mix of new with old is an effort to draw two very separate audiences to this new film. Versions of several of the original tracks were included, as well as an effort to keep to the same plot in an attempt to encourage those who have already seen the original to go see the new one. Additionally, Brewer set it in modern times, and added hip-hop and choreography similar to more recent films such as Step Up to encourage audiences who are fans of those types of movies to go to this one.
The main problem with this strategy is that Brewer risks alienating both intended audiences by trying to cater to the desires of each one. Fans of the original may have a hard time swallowing the bumping and grinding to modern music, while newer audiences may be turned off by the line dancing to music with a bit of a twang.
Even if this film does match up to the original with younger audiences, who have never seen the first one, it will be a hard sell for fans of the first Footloose. After all, even Brewer admitted, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”