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‘Footloose’ remake fails to deliver

 

Confession: I’ve never seen the original “Footloose,” so I walked into the remake with a clean slate.  

I was even prepared to like it just fine because occasionally I enjoy feel-good movies where singing and dancing solve all the world’s problems.  

If “Footloose” had just stuck with that idea, it might have been a good movie, or at least a passable one.  

In “Footloose,” a teenager from Boston named Ren moves to a town down South where they don’t allow dancing because a few years back five teenagers were killed after a night of lewd and lascivious gyrating.  

Obviously, it was the dancing that killed them.  

Those hedonistic “young’uns” danced their way right into the path of an oncoming truck.  

It wasn’t the alcohol or general lack of awareness on the road that teenagers can have.  

It was the dancing.  

Sorry, sarcasm overload. I hate to harp on it, but this isn’t the ‘50s. It’s completely unbelievable that a town could ban rock ‘n’ roll and dancing in 2011.

Taking over for Kevin Bacon, Ren is played by Kenny Wormald doing his best (or worst) Mark Wahlberg impression. 

Due to plot convenience, Wormald is kind of great at everything.  

He “MacGuyvers” a completely broken-down old junker into a sweet ride with a dope sound system in the span of an afternoon, thanks to a little montage action. 

He can outrun everyone on the track team. He has mastered the art of gymnastics. All the ladies think he’s pretty rad.  

His greatest quality, however, is that he can dance. And not just that back and forth shuffle we stereotypical white guys always do. He dances like those people in “You Got Served” and “Step Up” and “Step Up 2: The Streets” and probably a bunch of other movies I don’t hate myself enough to have seen.  

Ren must use the power of his dancing and rally the other high school kids to put an end to the town’s oppressive laws.

Now all snark aside, the dancing in this movie is pretty acrobatic and spectacular to watch, though it is completely preposterous that all the students at this high school are apparently professional dancers.  

I even agree with Ren’s reasoning as to why dancing is a pure and good thing. Again, if the movie had just been about that, it could have been OK.

The problem is that “Footloose” doesn’t know what it wants to be.  

In any given scene it can switch from feel-good teen comedy to a fish-out-of-water story to an after-school special to soap opera to Lifetime original movie to left-wing propaganda to right-wing propaganda to goofy to sentimental to dark and back again. 

It succeeds at none of those things. 

Add to this a fair amount of scenes that are completely inane and pointless, and you start to realize the movie just doesn’t know what to do with itself when characters aren’t dancing.

Speaking of characters, the supporting cast is hit or miss, and the often groan-inducing dialogue doesn’t help much.  

Julianne Hough, from “Dancing with the Stars,” plays Ren’s love interest, preacher’s daughter and all-around bad girl.  

If they gave Academy Awards for the ability to wear tight jeans, Hough would win and be the first runner up, too. But because they don’t, I don’t see her winning one anytime in the near future.  

Dennis Quaid is completely wasted here as the ultra-conservative preacher. He is just too nice, and you know from the moment you see him that eventually he’ll come around and let them dance.  

Miles Teller is fun as Ren’s friend Willard, despite the fact that he plays the dumb Southern stereotype. He’s likeable and the montage (seriously, there’s probably five of them in the movie) where he learns how to dance is one of the most enjoyable things here.   

The highlight of the supporting cast is Ray McKinnon (“The Blind Side,” “Sons of Anarchy”) who plays Ren’s uncle as a small-town Southern man who is both open-minded and, gasp, tolerant. He also has a fairly funny speech on why you can’t buy beer on Sunday in his town.

Fortunately, the movie keeps most of the songs from the original. 

Unfortunately, they are all cover versions by popular country artists. Blake Shelton’s rendition of the title track is so similar to the original that you wonder why they even bothered.  

Is Kenny Loggins not cool enough for kids these days? His version is played at the beginning, at least.  

So what we’re left with is a movie that tries to wear too many hats, and none of them fit. They’re all too loose.  

Foot loose.

Somebody should’ve cut “Footloose.”

Follow Josh on Twitter @JoshuaPresley.