Original 1984 ‘Footloose’ Versus 2011 Remake


19 October 2011| No Comments on Original 1984 ‘Footloose’ Versus 2011 Remake     by Sean Chavel


Footloose (1984) has been branded as an icon of the the’80s nostalgia so it will always sort of be its own thing. Plus, the original had Kevin Bacon and that gives it an advantage. Or does it? The original doesn’t always make sense on its own terms. But even the dance numbers sometimes photograph at a distance instead of really being there. The director Herbert Ross tends to photograph not the people, but the set.

As you may recall, the high school rebel Ren (Bacon) relocates from the big city to a small town. Unlike the remake in small town Georgia, it takes place in small town Utah. Music has been outlawed much in lieu of a recent tragedy, and because it is viewed as a sinful catalyst to teen sex. Ren is converse to the law and to the preacher Reverend Shaw (John Lithgow) who casts down shame onto the town. But Ren catches the eye of Shaw’s daughter Ariel (Lori Singer), and together, they make dancing and makin’ out look like a wholesome rite of passage. The responsible teens they are, they want to earn the right back from city council regulators to hold public dancing once again. Ren and friends must defeat angry self-righteous zealots and dance! dance! dance! The climax is a confetti-splashing blast.

However, the 1984 version overall now seems dramatically clumsy and slack of convincing motives. Scenes smack of arbitrarily flatness. Certain actors look out of place. It’s like, whoa, the remake is better! Here’s a list that compares both versions:

  1. Ren’s mother did not die of leukemia in the original. She’s now alive and well, now a divorcee who has relocated with her son.
  2. Ren’s uncle is not a cool guy at all, but a real unlikable ballbuster.
  3. Lori Singer as Ariel looks way too old to be playing a high school student to the point that she plays immaturity with contempt.
  4. Ariel’s scummy boyfriend in the remake is a novice auto racer but is just a scummy boyfriend in the original with nothin’ to him.
  5. Ariel loses her virginity to the scummy auto racer in the remake but it’s not defined for sure if she lost it at all in the original, thus, when she tells dad we don’t know if she’s just trying to provoke him or not.
  6. Ariel gets slapped by her father in the remake after she comes home with bruises on her eye caused by her scummy boyfriend and discloses her lost virginity. In the original, she gets slapped before this happens. Less dramatic sense.
  7. Ariel begins to contemplate her shameful behavior once she meets Ren in the remake, but doesn’t seem to contemplate guilty feelings for anything more than thirty seconds in the original.
  8. Reverend Shaw is played by John Lithgow as a real inflexible zealot, not a human being capable of making amends with mistakes as played by Dennis Quaid in the remake. Shaw’s behavioral U-turn makes no sense in the original.
  9. Overbaked melodrama includes religious righteousness book-burning, a scene wisely omitted from the sequel.
  10. Willard is played by the paunchy buffoon Chris Penn in the original, and he’s quite good in the role. But Miles Teller is great, too. Both of them are good with making fun of themselves. Hence, they both get a great “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” music montage. But Teller is able to laugh while he’s making fun of himself. Advantage, Teller.
  11. The confetti on Bacon is awesome. One advantage, 1984.
  12. Biggest difference? The remake has more dance numbers. Big advantage, 2011.

Overall, the 2011 remake (pic above) by Craig Brewer is the one newer generations will need for now on. The nostalgic ’80s generation should have their right to stay with Bacon. But if you haven’t caught the original, you’re not missing the world, so not much reason to go back. Except for the Bacon-confetti climax.

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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