Some of you will remember the version of this movie from the 1980's which starred Kevin Bacon in a breakout role and gave us timeless songs and images that still stand strong today. The remake follows the story very closely although bringing it up to current times to make room for ipods and songs featuring current artists. The cast is full of newcomers like Kenny Wormald and Miles Teller as well as seasoned veterans like Dennis Quaid and Andie McDowell. The main question here is if this remake will step on the toes of its predecessor or will it two-step past expectations and share space on the dance floor with a timeless classic.
The focus of this film is the two main teenage characters Ren McCormack (Wormald) and Ariel Moore (Hough) as they fight personal struggles and plenty of growing pains. Ren is a newcomer to the small town of Bomont, Georgia and Ariel is the daughter of the town preacher, Reverand Shaw Moore (Quaid) and his wife Vi Moore (McDowell). Three years prior to Ren's arrival and after an incident that involved dancing, music, and alcohol which lead to the death of five high school students, the residents of this town decided to ban just about anything involving those activities for any and all minors.
Ren immediately runs in to trouble as he tries to make sense of the town's strict laws and in turn catches the eye of the rebellious Ariel. He also manages to make friends with new classmate Willard, who provides many great moments of comic relief, as well as members of the football team who eventually show him that the town's teenagers still find ways to get their groove on with the help of some sympathetic adults. Inspired by his new friends and frustrated by the constant big brother style approach of the town's authority figures, our fleet footed hero decides to take matters in to his own hands in an attempt to return head spins and boot scoots to this small Georgia town.
Overall, I have to say this was a very enjoyable film as it kept a very upbeat and fun pace all the way through and with the help of a great score featuring fresh tunes and new twists on classic songs from the original. If you're not moving a little in your seat to the reworked main theme and an updated version of Let's Hear it for the Boy, then you may need to check both your hearing and your pulse. The dancing throughout the movie is very well choreographed and matches the pace and style of the music and also revisits some of those moments from the 80's version that you remember so well.
All of the characters (and the actors playing the roles) are very likable which helps the movie along even when they have that starry eyed and glossy MTV style shine about them. You definitely root for the teenagers in their quest to bust their dancing shoes out of city ordinance lock down yet you also understand where the adults are coming from as the story does a great job of not completely vilifying them. These are good-hearted common folk that have the best interests of the children at heart even when they go to extremes to protect them from their youth.
This film could easily have been a summer blockbuster with teens flocking to multiplexes and dancing down theater aisles, but without big name star power in the main roles, the movie studios shied away from adding it to one of those prime money making time slots. Hopefully people still make it out to see this fun movie as it is a genuine good time that will have you tapping your feet, singing along to the catchy songs, and rooting for the teens in their quest to restore dancing as an essential part of their teenage years.