No, I’m not going to complain that we don’t need a re-make. The original was a whole generation ago, and it’s not as if intolerance has gone out of style since then.
But I do reserve the right to complain about other things in this movie. First, it always bugs me when they cast people to play high schoolers who are so obviously too old. In this case, the lead actor, Kenny Wormald, is 27. His local buddy, played by Miles Teller, is 24. The lead actress, Julianne Hough, is 23. And we’re supposed to believe these are 17-year-olds? C’mon, how can we suspend disbelief when what we’re seeing is so obviously working against credulity? Granted, they’re all good dancers, and mostly adequate actors, and that helps. But could we not find any actual teenagers to portray teenagers?
Of course, as a “practicing” Pastor, there was a lot not to like about Dennis Quaid’s portrayal of the uptight preacher. He’s smooth to the point of smarmy on Sunday morning, with the little (Presbyterian) sanctuary full of rhapsodically-attentive listeners. But when his son is killed in a car wreck, along with several other teens, he uses his City Council position to help pass ridiculous local laws not only establishing a curfew for teens, but also prohibiting loud music and dancing! No Presbyterian minister I know would be this punitive and closed-minded. He is prejudiced against “newcomers” and rude to kids. And at home, he is not only tiresomely heavy-handed when dealing with his teenaged daughter; he actually strikes her across the face during an argument. No Presbyterian minister I know would do such a thing. And if he did, wouldn’t he be charged with domestic violence?
And speaking of violence, it was also unnecessary that at the climactic prom scene, the wannabe bullies outside are dispatched by the fisticuffs of not only the lead actors, but also the actresses, as if this is a perfectly acceptable way to make the dance floor safe for the innocents. Or are we somehow attempting to insure, in the immortal words of Billy Joel, that we could dance and still look tough?
But speaking of quotations, you gotta like the scene where Wormald addresses the uptight City Council utilizing scripture references supplied to him by his preacher-daughter girlfriend (Hough). Yes, Psalm 149, about praising the Lord with dancing, and also Second Samuel 6, about David dancing before the Lord when the ark was brought to Jerusalem, and also Ecclesiastes, about a time to dance. Never mind that the bible is used to beat people over the head with only the verses that support my side of the debate. How many times in a recent movie have you witnessed the bible being quoted at all?
But it also must be said about the 2011 version of “Footloose” that there is a certain exuberance, a contagious playfulness, that is just plain enjoyable to watch. Sure, there are large, significant flaws. But it’s a happy film, filled with innocent joy in dancing to the music. And what’s wrong with that?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas