It’s a funny thing that we’ve got two remakes/premakes of 80s films that, within their respective fan bases, are considered absolute classics. While it’s kind of an odd comparison to make, I don’t have any problem saying flat out, by any metric you’d want to use: Craig Brewer won.
Footloose is definitely a remake that treads the line of the original film, but I think few would ask “what was the point of that?” after seeing it. This is the case of a talented, distinctive filmmaker taking on a property that speaks to him, and that he now has the opportunity to speak through. While Footloose is –as Brewer fully owns– his “PG-13, popcorn movie,” that doesn’t mean it doesn’t maintain a very solid continuity with the rest of his work. In many ways Footloose is amalgam of the major themes in both Hustle & Flow as well as Black Snake Moan, then filtered through a younger, more mainstream sensibility that makes them accessible to everyone.
But lest you think the film is just a scene-by-scene remake with Brewer’s aesthetic slathered on top of it, note that the director passed on the movie three times before he finally agreed to make it. It wasn’t until he conceived of a few subtle changes in plot, tone, and perspective that he found his entryway into the story, and decided it was worth the effort and scorn of tackling a remake. Like John Carpenter’s The Thing was definitely its own film separate from Howard Hawks’ original, this is definitely Craig Brewer’s Footloose.
Along with the thematic integrity Brewer is able to maintain though, there’s also the fact that the film is just damn exciting and very pretty to look at. Nobody shoots the South like Brewer, and he’s got a firm handle on how to make an exciting, visually dynamic film that feels modern and classic simultaneously. It’s a real testament to the work of him and his crew that the ultra-polished and definitively contemporary remake this weekend ultimately better captures the spirit of its successor than the one actually set in the same time period as its predecessor.
I was glad to nab a few minuets of camera time with the director, and found Brewer to be a thoughtful and articulate interview subject. I think he makes a good case for his film simply by engaging with it how he would any other movie. There’s no defensiveness, just confidence in the final product. This is what happens when you let a real filmmaker loose on a project they care about. Enjoy the interview, and be sure to share it if you dig…