Footloose director Craig Brewer out to make a bang all over again
There are important things to know about Craig Brewer. His grandfather was a famous baseball player for the New York Yankees and Mets named “Marvelous Marv” Throneberry. He has a southern accent detectable under very particular circumstances. “You gotta get me just a little bit drunk and it’ll rear its wonderful head. Some whisky or just throw in a Pabst.” He wrote and directed 2005’s oddly irresistible Hustle & Flow, about a Memphis pimp who dreams, as pimps may do, of being a rap star. And he recently had the audacity to—gasp!—remake that 1984 dance-your-ass-off classic, Footloose.
“I not only loved the Footloose soundtrack when I was a kid but I actually figured out a way to make an audio recording of my VHS tape,” Brewer says in his cool-cat voice. “When I walked to school, I listened to the whole movie, including the dialogue.” He’s calling from L.A., promoting the movie (which opens Friday [October 14] ) that he twice turned down before finally caving.
“I turned it down for the same reasons that I’m sure that there’s a lot of people skeptical about seeing it,” the writer-director says. “It’s like, ‘It’s a classic movie,’ how dare we remake it.” Ultimately, Brewer decided that today’s teens just possibly needed to “cut loose”, as those lyrics go. “I think they need to experience the same ideals and morals and energy that was in Footloose when I saw it back in the day.”
In ’84, “Footloose was kind of like a big bang for me,” he says. “I’d never seen Kevin Bacon before. This guy with the skinny tie and the big hair, he was who I wanted to be.” The skinny-tied guy (now played by Kenny Wormald) is back. So are the yellow VW Bug and the red cowboy boots. City boy Ren once again moves to tiny Bomont, yearns for the preacher’s naughty daughter, Ariel (Julianne Hough), and rebels against Bomont’s no-fun law forbidding public dancing. And, natch, that rebellious hoofing includes some rather enthusiastic hip-hop and country line dancing.
Wait. Uh, line dancing? “The thing that made me think differently about line dance is when I saw that there were people that put their own spin on it,” Brewer says, “their own little sass.” Sass was found and filmed in an Atlanta, Georgia, club called Cowboys. “It just seems like that club was happening, and we kind of walked into the middle of it. All the people that you see in the background, they show up every weekend.”
And that 800-pound gorilla otherwise known as the soundtrack? It’s decidedly “diverse. I go into country-music clubs and people are dancing to Kenny Chesney songs, but a Snoop Dogg version of ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ comes on and everybody’s moving to it. Kids have, like, 3,000 songs on their iPods.”
There were still those perhaps sensitive fans of Kenny Loggins’s title track and all those fantastic ’80s love ballads to consider. “There were about four songs from the original—’Footloose’, ‘Holding Out for a Hero’, ‘Almost Paradise’, ‘Let’s Hear It for the Boy’—that I knew had to be in the movie. People would picket and show up at my house if I didn’t have them.”
Or send out a hit squad.
Watch the trailer for Footloose.