Review | Footloose and the Ryan Gosling Factor

18 Oct

So I saw the new Footloose last night.

I pretty much thought it was a lackluster impression of what was likable about The Great Dance Movies, and it got me to wondering why some of these cheesefests work and others don’t. And I’ve think I figured out what it was missing…

Let’s call it the Ryan Gosling factor.

Before I really get into my theory, I want to discuss the movie, which was excruciatingly long with a disproportionateĀ number of dance scenes.

In all cases, I have to say the dancing was disappointing, and aside from rebel-boy’s fantastic aunt and uncle, Kim Dickens (of Deadwood descent) and Ray McKinnon (also from Deadwood! and Justified! and O Brother, Where Art Thou!), and a cute “dorky friend” performance from Miles Teller, performances from the cast were “meh” at best.

But who cares about the acting, you say, it’s a dang dance movie. I wasn’t expecting any Oscar-winning performances, but I would argue that, while I agree with you to an extent, the addition of Dennis Quaid and Andie McDowell to the cast (along with the aforementioned Deadwood dream team) leads me to believe that we were supposed to pay attention to the acting. But fine, let’s discuss the dancing.

Julianne Hough happens to be an awesome dancer, which I know from how many seasons of Dancing With the Stars already. Truth: Girlfriend did not get a single solo dance scene. Honestly, there were so many close-ups and cutaways throughout the entire film that I’m not really sure anybody got a solo dance scene. Kenny Wormald, who’s done enough cheesy dance movies to be referred to as “the cheesy dance movie kid” was totally unimpressive – aesthetically and otherwise. Kevin Bacon’s warehouse scene kicked his warehouse scene’s butt. Which is not yet on youtube so I can’t illustrate that well at the moment. But I can show you how they integrated line dancing into the new movie, lord have mercy…

Overall, it was a cotton candy coated snorefest, with an obligatory modern ultra slim/orangey tanned/long blonde extensioned sluttification of the preacher’s daughter and the overall putrification of the joy and beauty of epic 80s dance movies, utterly lacking in personality or grit of any kind.

Which brings me to my point.

What this movie needed was some of the Ryan Gosling Factor. This guy made The Notebook bearable, and brought incredible charm and personality to the most banal of movie relationship conversations. Had he stepped off the bus from Boston instead of Kenny Wormald in this movie… Well, it would have been a different kind of movie where we would have cared what happened and how. It wouldn’t have mattered that there were no truly awesome dance scenes, or that it lasted an excruciating 113 minutes, or even that Hollywood had to completely hyper-sexualize the teenage girl to an extent that made me uncomfortable. The cliches could have been overlooked with one ripped shirt/sweaty chested aerobic dance-off, which there were zero of because nobody would have cared anyways with this guy who dressed like Kevin Bacon in the 80s despite everyone else dressing normally.

And, by the way, as far as costume design goes, Ima need them to explain to me how a struggling car mechanic is wearing such a fantastic (and expensive) grey flannel suit coat to church and yet the girls at the prom look like they went to the Wet Seal seconds sale. Because that town didn’t even have a mall.

In closing, I think what worked in the 80s dance movies was the subtle EMERGENCE of the girls’ sexuality as opposed to unabashedly slutting it up from the get-go; the sheer manliness-and slight dirtiness-of the male leads (Kevin Bacon and Patrick Swayze particularly but think of Grease, West Side Story… ); and the overall nostalgic coyness of the films, which is totally lacking in the modern re-makes. There’s no tension or moral dilemma in this film, and I’m gonna say it: I HATE when they make movies in which terrible southern accents are employed. Leave it to the professionals already.

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