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footloose_onesheet2_twittericonWhen I went to high school people didn’t dance as much as they swayed, or maybe gyrated when the music really hit them. The adventurous among us occasionally tried the Hustle or the Bump, but that was about it. According to “Footloose,” a remake of the 80s classic from “Hustle and Flow” director Craig Brewer, now-a-days high school seniors have moves that would make Mikhail Baryshnikov green with envy.

Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald) is a big city kid forced by circumstance to move to the small town of Bomont, Georgia to live with his uncle. He’s a rebel who soon finds a cause in town. Three years prior a group of teens were killed in a car crash after a dance. In reaction the town banned public dancing, amplified music and other rites of teenage passage. Ren, a former gymnast and dancing fool, challenges the law, butts heads with the local preacher Reverend Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid in the John Lithgow role) and falls in love with the minister’s daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough). Will the town lift the ban? Will the love birds ever get to break dance in public?

“Footloose” is a little grittier than you would imagine a movie starring Ryan Seacrest’s girlfriend to be. Director Brewer’s roots are in indie filmmaking and it shows. The slickness normally associated with contemporary teen fare is by and large missing here, replaced with the steamy Southern feel that permeates his other films. You won’t hear a line like, “You’re sexier than socks on a rooster,” in any of the “Twilight” movies.

MacCormack and Hough shine the brightest when they are in motion on the dance floor, but Miles Teller as Willard (played by Chris Penn in the original), Ren’s dance-challenged best friend steals the show on and off the dance floor.

Rebooting a well-loved classic is a tricky business. Brewer has wisely not messed with the formula too much. There are slight changes, Ren is now from Boston instead of Chicago, the tractor game of chicken from the original is now a bus race and the dancing has been updated but upbeat rebellious core (and most of the songs) of the ’84 movie is intact.

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