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Footloose gets a new look

By Samantha Bunn
On October 11, 2011

Almost every year Hollywood and the film industry witnesses the production of movie based off of an earlier script, a true story, or a best-selling novel. The pressure associated with those projects can either make or break the film as directors, screenwriters and actors try their hardest to pay tribute to the people that have given them a chance to tell their story in a unique and entertaining way. In many cases the film either receives plenty of praise, or it flops indefinitely leaving the audience wondering, why even do a remake at all?

For Craig Brewer, the question of why has already come up plenty of times as his remake of "Footloose" releases in theaters later this month on Oct. 14.

Based heavily off the 1984 original, starring Kevin Bacon, the 2011 remake features newcomer Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough ("Dancing with the Stars"). Although this version follows the basic plotline of a new kid coming to a small southern town and trying to rebel against a no-dancing law, Brewer modernized the film in a way that allows it to still speak to teenagers of the current generation as it did for an 80's teenage audience. In a recent interview with college newspapers, Brewer noted, "There is [a] tremendous amount of love for the original. But there is also an urgency to tell a movie that had the ideals of the original Footloose; that had the energy of the original Footloose; and give it to a new generation that I think is in need of a Footloose. And I know I get eye rolls for that, because people look at Footloose as the big hair and the tight jeans, you know, and…some of the cheesy songs."

Since the start of its development back in 2007 – 2008, the film has bounced around between writers, cast members, and even directors. Although it was first known that Kenny Ortega ("High School Musical") was to director the film and Zac Efron was supposed to star in it, both eventually left the project and Brewer said. "But, I passed on it because I think I was kind of like a lot of other people. I saw how they were going to be making it. They kind of got the same team that had made "High School Musical" and I kind of shook my head saying…you know, I don't know what they're going to make...but "Footloose" is more than a dance movie."

Brewer rose to popularity after directing the 2005 Academy Award winning film, "Hustle & Flow" (Terrence Howard) and then came out with "Black Snake Moan" (Samuel L. Jackson) a year later in 2006.

However his passion for "Footloose" began at 13 as a teenager when the original film, written by Dean Pitchford, hit theaters.

Going into the project, Brewer knew that his version would have to be a solid tribute to the original in its entirety. He took the time to completely read through the original script and sat down with Pitchford to talk about his plans for the remake. "I told him what I wanted to do, and he was very supportive of me," Brewer said. "He's seen the movie recently, and he loved it."

Brewer also made sure the studio knew how his approach to the film would be, keeping true to a lot of the original scenes.

"The head of studio called me and he said ‘…You really need to consider doing this your way,' and I was like ‘Well, my way would be ‘Footloose.' You know, my way would be what Dean Pitchford did with the original movie. Would you have any problem with me doing ‘Footloose,' not necessarily as is, but pretty much the same story?' And they go, ‘No, that wouldn't be a problem. Why would we have a problem with that?' And I was like, ‘OK. So, I just want to make sure, you know, you're cool with kids smoking pot, drinking liquor, having underage sex and there being a scene where a boyfriend beats a girl up.'"

The film has been pre-screened within the last few weeks, but doesn't make its major debut for another two giving audiences enough time to decide whether or not they want to risk liking the remake as much as the original or not at all.

The challenge of producing a remake of a film, especially for the audience, is trying not to feel like you're leaving behind the original. As an audience, there is often an overwhelming feeling of not wanting to like a remake because somebody already did it first and it was their work. But Brewer is confident his remake will speak to a wide range of audiences, from those who saw and loved the original, to those who have never seen the original before in their lives.

"I think that, no one would've made it better than the team that we put together," he said. "I have never been more confident in my life as a director that I nailed a movie."

Well Mr. Brewer, we shall see.

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