Instead, it centres on the interpersonal drama and exhilarating dance moves.
After his mother dies, Boston teen Ren (Wormald) moves to small-town Bomont to live with his aunt and uncle (Dickens and McKinnon). Teens here are prohibited from dancing due to a tragedy three years earlier, so Ren is soon at loggerheads with the local minister (Quaid), whose daughter Ariel (Hough) is a wild child with a redneck boyfriend (Flueger) and an eye for Ren. As Ren deals with his own issues, he teams up with new friends Willard and Woody (Teller and Blain) to take on the system.
Intriguingly, filmmaker Brewer never parodies the original, retelling the story realistically while out parallels that wouldn't have worked in 1984 (such as indirectly comparing the dance ban with the Patriot Act). He also directs his cast to create believable characters we can engage with. And for fans of the original, he remixes all of the hit singles in clever ways. Let's Hear It for the Boy, sung as karaoke at a little girl's birthday party, is pretty fabulous.
That said, at least Kevin Bacon put some anger into the warehouse dance-rant.
Wormald doesn't have the same sharp edges, and feels much more likeable, which kind of makes it hard to understand why even the repressed reverend would treat him as a villain. That said, Wormald's chemistry with Hough and his scenes with Teller and Blain are extremely enjoyable, as is the rivalry with Flueger and his drunken-chucklehead pals. And Quaid brings a nicely layered sensibility to the haunted preacher.
Brewer shoots all of this with full energy. This is a much more muscular version of singing and dancing teens than we see each week on Glee. Although the shift into more serious themes is rather clunkier. Shameless sentiment and corny plotting collide badly in the final act, which superficially races through the resolution of the various story strands so we can get back to the dancing. Which is of course the only reason we're here.
Run time: 107 mins
In Theaters: Friday 17th February 1984
Distributed by: Paramount Home Video
Production compaines: Spyglass Entertainment, MTV Films
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 16
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Craig Brewer
Starring: Kenny Wormald as Ren MacCormack, Julianne Hough as Ariel Moore, Dennis Quaid as Rev. Shaw Moore, Andie MacDowell as Vi Moore, Miles Teller as Willard, Ray McKinnon as Wes Warnicker, Patrick John Flueger as Chuck Cranston (as Patrick John Flueger), Kim Dickens as Lulu Warnicker, Ziah Colon as Rusty Rodriguez, Ser'Darius Blain as Woody, L. Warren Young as Andy Beamis, Brett Rice as Roger Dunbar, Maggie Elizabeth Jones as Amy Warnicker (as Maggie Jones), Mary-Charles Jones as Sarah Warnicker, Enisha Brewster as Etta, Josh Warren as Rich, Corey Flaspoler as Russell, Anessa Ramsey as Caroline, Jason Ferguson as Travis, Frank Hoyt Taylor as Mr. Parker, Jayson Smith as Officer Herb, Claude Phillips as Claude, Clay Chappell as Councilperson, Tony Vaughn as Councilperson, Tony Vaughn as Councilperson, Daniel Burnley as Councilperson, Jack Davidson as Councilperson, Alisa Pettit as Councilperson, Tracy Goode as Judge, Clayton Landey as Coach Guerntz, John Still as Track Official, Brian Durkin as Big Cowboy, Amber Wallace as Instructor, Sandra Ellis Lafferty as Mrs. Allyson (as Sandra Lafferty), D. Dylan Schettina as Drive-In Bus Boy, Blair Jasin as Bobby, Jasmine Cook as Car Accident Victim, Reece Thomas as Car Accident Victim, Ivey Lowe as Car Accident Victim, Anna Marie Dobbins as Car Accident Victim, Kevin Renard Fisher as Woody's Cousin, Andrew Ruark as Cotton Gin Worker, Travis Young as Big Bubba, Jamal Sims as Kegger D. J., Kyle Wayne Cordova as Dancer, Alvester Martin as Dancer, Madison Benson as Kegger Dancer, Jonathan Sylvan Carey as Kegger Dancer, Craig Brewer as Kegger Dancer, Bubba Carr as Kegger Dancer (as Charles Carr), Sora Connor as Kegger Dancer (as Sarah Connor), Kasey Davage as Kegger Dancer, Chynna Dulac as Kegger Dancer, Brett Frost as Kegger Dancer, Terrence Gilbert Green as Kegger Dancer, Ashlyn Henson as Kegger Dancer, Cicely Kelley as Kegger Dancer, Elysandra Quinones as Kegger Dancer, Brandon Sauve as Kegger Dancer, Allan Skeene, Jr. as Kegger Dancer, Katherine Slatery as Kegger Dancer, Amanda Topper as Kegger Dancer, Jasmine Badie as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Sean Bankhead as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Terence Dickson as Drive-In Grill Dancer (as Terence Terell Dickson), Kiara Ely as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Comfort Fedoke as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Hannah Huddleston as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Stephen Stevo Jones as Drive-In Grill Dancer, JaQuel Knight as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Tamara Levinson as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Ron Myles as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Britney Chelene Thomas as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Christopher Toler as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Nanci Anderson as Cowboys' Dancer, Kendra Andrews as Cowboys' Dancer (as Kendra Lauren Andrews), Jeffery Scott Bailey as Cowboys' Dancer, Liana Blackburn as Cowboys' Dancer, Brent L. Boxberger as Cowboys' Dancer, Taylor Bradley as Cowboys' Dancer, Kelley Bradshaw as Cowboys' Dancer, Claire Callaway as Cowboys' Dancer, Robert Chabott as Cowboys' Dancer, C. Ryan Chandler as Cowboys' Dancer, Amanda Davisson as Cowboys' Dancer, Troy Dela Rosa as Cowboys' Dancer, Hannah Douglass as Cowboys' Dancer, Danella Dutton as Cowboys' Dancer, Aisha Francis as Cowboys' Dancer, Jonathan Fritschi as Cowboys' Dancer, Larke Hasstedt as Cowboys' Dancer, Joey Hernandez as Cowboys' Dancer, Katherine Hough as Cowboys' Dancer, Jeremy Craig Hudson as Cowboys' Dancer, Dacia James as Cowboys' Dancer, George Jones, Jr. as Cowboys' Dancer, William Ladd as Cowboys' Dancer, Meryl Lester as Cowboys' Dancer, Katherine Levy as Cowboys' Dancer, Megan Mackey as Cowboys' Dancer, Michelle Maniscalco as Cowboys' Dancer, Brian Mason as Cowboys' Dancer, Michael McDonough as Cowboys' Dancer, Dennis McKinnie as Cowboys' Dancer, Keltie Colleen Minksky as Cowboys' Dancer, Marriann Nelson as Cowboys' Dancer, Brent Ours as Cowboys' Dancer, Jamie Overla as Cowboys' Dancer, Marabeth Poole as Cowboys' Dancer, Harrison Jonathan Prater as Cowboys' Dancer, Melissa Rummels as Cowboys' Dancer, Monique Slaughter as Cowboys' Dancer, Lisa Marie Thomas as Cowboys' Dancer (as Lisa Thomas), Gissette E. Valentin as Cowboys' Dancer, Tyler Duncan Wall as Cowboys' Dancer, Quincy Lamar Willis as Cowboys' Dancer, Sharee Wise as Cowboys' Dancer, Joshua Allen as Finale Dancer, Tucker Barkley as Finale Dancer, Bianca Brewton as Finale Dancer, Whitney Brown as Finale Dancer, Bboy Kid David as Finale Dancer, Justin Michael De Vera as Finale Dancer, Michael Brandon Dizon as Finale Dancer, Laura Edwards as Finale Dancer, Christina Glur as Finale Dancer, Cory Graves as Finale Dancer, Misha Hamilton as Finale Dancer, Dayna Michelle Harris as Finale Dancer, Ivan Koumaev as Finale Dancer, Nicholas Lanzisera as Finale Dancer, Matthew Laraway as Finale Dancer, Spencer Liff as Finale Dancer, Ahrielle Mace as Finale Dancer, Candace Neolani Maxwell as Finale Dancer, Glenda Morales as Finale Dancer, Abbye Myers as Finale Dancer, Christian Owens as Finale Dancer, Kayla Jenee Radomski as Finale Dancer, Luis Rosado as Finale Dancer, Carson Marie Seeley as Finale Dancer, Dakota Scott Smith as Finale Dancer, Brittny Sugarman as Finale Dancer, Melanie Ullmann as Finale Dancer, Miguel Angel Zarate as Finale Dancer