Footloose (2011)

You may remember Footloose if you are either (1) old, or (2) a film buff. In any case you have a cinder of the songs and musical score in general. Who could forget those classical tracks about youth life from yesteryear? Not many that is for sure. Not at least if your only conception of Footloose is the 2011 remake. If this was your first exposure to the Footloose concept than your remembrance may be radically different from the original.

The concept this time around is a small town and its repressive laws. After a drunken escapade involving some teenagers resulting in the deaths of five of their own, the authoritarian town council passes a series of draconian Ageist laws to prevent youth from smoking, drinking, gathering in large numbers, and dancing in public, so as to preserve the public morality; oh, you also can’t play music too loudly least you disturb the peace. Enter: Ren MacCormack, a city boy from Boston who, with the help of the preacher’s daughter (cliché!) challenges the unlawful law.

The movie is lukewarm in its political message. Made by Mtv (still, evidently, trying to have pretense as a musical oriented establishment) the remake obviously had a lot of pressure riding on it: to both maintain the flame of the original, introduce the concept to a new generation, and yet not offend the previous incarnation. To achieve this goal they filled with movie with compromise: at the start of the film the town council bans dancing (the wild ruckus kind) while at the end, with the holding of a defiant public dance held on the youth’s own rules, the dancing, though returned, entertains a conservative morality. This is seen throughout the film with the oppressed culture (young people) challenging the establishment at the establishment’s own turf following their own rules; drugs, marijuana, cigarettes, lewd dancing, and the rest are barred from the dance. Hence in the dialectical struggle, though the youth were able to hold their own dance (informally, since their petition failed; another sign of playing nice with the law), it ultimately resulted in but a mild development. Reactionary morality, as seen in the form of substance use and behavior, still retains the dominant aspect while the other contradictions, such as the curfew, are not even approached.

This sort of political message is expected from a center-left production company. Even so it is not a surprise when the project fails to grasp the original flave and burns on a strange musical number which amounts to a middle of the road solution. Is most of the film fine? Yes: acting, direction, and so on are ably constructed but only in the context of what Mtv films was trying to accomplish: a quick remake to cash in on a cultural icon. In their efforts to please everyone they effectively, as most such remakes do, please very little but those who have no prior understanding of history.

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