When I saw the previews for this remake with crunk dancing and the booty grinding, I thought it was just Step Up 4 with a Footloose label pasted over. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not! It has been some time since I saw the original, but the new version seems to take the heart of the original and updated it a bit. I wasn't hoping for a shot for shot remake, but I wanted to feel like it was the same movie.
The story line is strong. For those of you born after 1985, it takes place in a rural town where a teenage boy from the city named Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald) comes to live with his aunt and uncle. Being from the city, it creates a classic fish out of water scenario. As well, he learns that dancing has been outlawed by the city council. Ren fights for the right to have fun and express himself and takes on the system. Many great themes can be found in this story; redemption, self worth, freedom, peer pressure, & friendship.
What was the same? The story line is just like the original, with many scenes right from the 1984 film. Including the scene of Ren dancing off some steam in an abandoned warehouse. Some of the dance steps were pulled from the original, but some moves were amped up for McCormacks incredible skills as a dancer. I know it is funny, but I was actually hoping for Zac Effron would get the role of Ren, but I am just as pleased with McCormacks' acting skills as well as dance.
For the changes, they modernized it a bit. You see iPods instead of record players and walkmans, a few hip hop tunes added, and styles have been updated a bit. But don't worry; everyone still wears Converse All-Stars.
The language was good for a PG-13. Although I wouldn't say it was clean, they did feel they were above the obligatory F-Bomb most PG-13 movies seem to flaunt. I spoke earlier of the theme or redemption. This theme is seen mostly in the character of Ariel Moore (Julianne Hough). In the beginning she makes some very poor decisions. The movie is not graphic, but you know it has happened. Her outfits are completely inappropriate, but it is not gratified. The movie instead shows the hard consequences of her choices and over time her wardrobe and her attitude change. (see, it is related). As she gravitates to good friends, she is able to increrase her self esteem and change who she wants to be.
There is also some teen drinking, seen as socially acceptable, but unless you read the can you would have no idea and could pretend it is Sprite. If your Bishop is friendly enough, you wouldn't uncomfortable sitting next to him in the theatre.
The shining example in this movie is Ren though. When Ariel tries to seduce him he dismisses her quickly. It even eludes to the fact that he is chaste. Something not seen in many teen protagonists. He is honorable and of high moral character and a defender of virtue. Although there is some PG-13 content, the lesson taught is that those who make poor dessisons face tragety and those who choose the right are happy.