Friday FabOoolousness – “Let’s Dance!”

It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and I to break down another cinematic original and its remake – this month, we discuss Footloose.

First, let’s review Catie’s summary of the 1984 film:

Footloose is the story of a big-city kid who moves to a podunk town where dancing is illegal.  The big-city kid fights to hold a school dance, a prom, and encounters resistance from both town leaders and other kids who don’t like slick, fast talking outsiders.  Footloose has it all–romance, fighting, laughs…and dancing.

And in keeping with Catie’s style, here’s a taste of the most recent, Footloose (2011):

I’ll be the first to admit that when I saw the trailer, I felt the remaking of Footloose was sacrilege.  The 1984 film is and forever will be a classic – why mess with greatness?

But it’s because of this negativity that I asked to review the 2011 remake by MTV Films.  And I won’t lie – I prepared myself for a horrible film.

The opening scene gave me goosebumps, blasting the original Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose” as today’s teens danced and partied.  It almost seemed like there wasn’t a generational gap between kids today and kids twenty years ago – everyone appreciates good music.  Heck, I wanted to get up and dance with them.  Already, my opinion of the movie slowly began to turn around…

Immediately following the opening scene, five teens are killed in a horrendous car accident.  The driver, a senior football star, was also the son of the town’s reverend (Rev. Shaw Moore, played by Dennis Quaid).  This accident forces the members of the Bomont, Georgia city council to impose strict laws, forbidding teens from drinking and participating in public dancing.

The “new” Ren

Fast forward three years and viewers are introduced to the new kid in town, Ren McCormack (played by Kenny Wormald), a boy who also recently suffered a great loss of his own with the death of his mother.

The “new” Ariel

Ren immediately finds himself not mixing well with the locals and can’t quite understand why a local police officer pulls him over for disturbing the peace (he was playing his music too loud).  He attempts to befriend the reverend’s daughter (Ariel, played by Dancing with the Stars’ Julianne Hough), but she’s too busy rebelling and dating an older, rough-around-the-edges man to give Ren the time of day.

The “new” Willard

After Ren makes friends with a fellow high school boy (Willard, played by Miles Teller), he learns that the town also enforces a “no dance” ordinance.  Needless to say, Ren is miserable in Bomont.

Does this sound familiar?  It should – the 2011 film mirrors the 1984 classic throughout.  Usually I’d list the differences between the original and remake, but today we’re going to appreciate the similarities:

Ren’s car – a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, also known as a Slug-Bug around Texas
Ren’s hobby and pastime – Gymnastics
Ariel’s boots – red
Ren’s first day of school attire – a neck tie
Ren’s “blowing off some steam” dance scene – a lot of the moves were the same (but the music was way off)
Willard learns how to dance – wearing a straw cowboy hat to the music “Let’s Hear it For the Boy” by Deniece Williams
The high school students’ secret hangout – The Yearbook
Ariel’s t-shirt at the council meeting – “Dance your @$$ off”
Ren’s prom attire – dark red, almost maroon, tuxedo jacket with a black bow-tie

Can everyone see where I’m going with this?  I applaud the attention to detail in keeping the original alive.  Of course there were also a few differences, but the bottom line is what matters – the story remains the same.

Footloose is a story about a boy, a stranger from another part of the country, who moves in and changes the town people’s lives and opens their eyes to believing in their children again.

Footloose is the story of a town coming together to celebrate life, not just mourning the dead.

Footloose is the story of children finding their voice – peacefully and respectfully.

Catie mentioned the music in the original Footloose, something none of us can argue with – the soundtrack is simply amazing, featuring artists such as Kenny Loggins, Sammy Hagar, Mike Reno (of Loverboy), Ann Wilson (of Heart), Bonnie Tyler, Foreigner, John Mellencamp, and Quiet Riot.

How does the remake compare?  The 2011 soundtrack may not be considered a classic twenty years from now, but the movie does feature many of the original’s hits – including Kenny Loggins’ and Blake Shelton’s rendition of “Footloose”, a Quiet Riot heavy metal song, plus remakes of “Hero” and “Almost Paradise”.

Catie also enlightened the rest of us with a fun fact – Kevin Bacon was not the first choice to play the role of Ren in the 1984 hit — Tom Cruise and Rob Lowe were considered first.  Can any of us imagine anyone besides Kevin Bacon playing Ren?

The “original” Ren

Similarly, Kenny Wormald wasn’t the first choice for the remake either.  Apparently Zac Efron, Chace Crawford, and Thomas Dekker all passed on the role first for one reason or another.  I was a little disappointed, especially that Chase Crawford didn’t work out, but I must say I am not at all sad after watching Kenny Wormald’s performance.  I don’t know who he is, but he’s absolutely adorable and nailed the character of Ren.

Speaking of relatively unknowns, the same can be said for Miles Teller.  Catie honored the fabOoolous performance of Chris Penn as Ren’s best friend, Willard, in the 1984 film.  But what about the 2011 portrayal of Willard?  Miles Teller may actually be the best casting of the entire film.  Sometimes I actually saw and heard Chris Penn in his performance.

Now Catie closed her post on an entirely different note, introducing the true story on which Footloose is based.  Be sure to remember and click over to her blog to read all about it.

For me, I’m just going to close with Ren’s words: “There is a time to dance.”

“Let’s Dance!”

What do you think?  Have you seen either the original or the remake of Footloose?  If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why?  If you haven’t, do you want to?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.

Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Clash of the Monday Titans

Our television sets and DVRs are about to kick into overdrive as fall TV arrives in just a few weeks.  Many of our favorite programs are returning, so Amber West and I decided to share a few more Why It’s Worth a Watch reviews to check out two of the dueling Monday night titans coming back to us September 19th – ABC’s Castle and CBS’s Hawaii Five-0

 

In 2008, TV viewers learned that CBS planned to remake the popular television series Hawaii Five-O, a hit that remained on the air from 1968-1980 starring Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett and James MacArthur as Danny Williams. 

Mixed emotions spread like wildfire – some of the older generations were furious that the networks would once again ruin a classic by attempting a remake, while others jumped in joy at the thought of their favorite television show in the ‘70s returning.  Not all that familiar with the original, the younger generations, particularly the women, marked their calendars for the series premiere and the return of some Australian sexiness to the small screen.    

Forty-two years to the day from the debut of the original Hawaii Five-O in 1968, the new Hawaii Five-0 aired.  Continuing the tribute to the original series, the 2010 opening credits remained exactly the same (except for the actors and a tad bit of our new technology today, of course).   The 2010 series also plays the original theme song composed by Morton Stevens during the opening credits. 

Don’t believe me?  Check these out!

1968

2010

What did you think?  Okay, now on to the characters!

Steve McGarrett played by Alex O’Laughlin (Moonlight, The Back-up Plan)

The series opens when McGarrett, a former Navy SEAL, hears his father murdered over the telephone.  He returns to Hawaii for the funeral and decides to stay when the governor (Jean Smart from Designing Women) appointments him the lead of the Five-O special task force, a unit with the ability to do whatever they deem necessary to close the case at hand – perfect for McGarrett’s way of acting & thinking. 

McGarrett takes down the bad guys for his “day job” while searching for the evidence to bring down Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos, The Crow: Stairway to Heaven), the man he believes is responsible for his mother’s death years ago and for his father’s recent murder. 

Viewers get to see a tad bit of McGarrett’s personal life when his sister visits (Mary Ann McGarrett, played by Taryn Manning, 8 Mile) and his recurring love interest’s carrier docks in Hawaii (Lt. Catherine Rollins played by Michelle Borth, The Forgotten).  

Danny Williams played by Scott Caan (Varsity Blues, Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen)

McGarrett’s partner, Danny, moved to Hawaii to be closer to his daughter, Grace, and he misses the mainland and Jersey food tremendously.   

Remember the popular phrase, Book ‘em Danno?  Well, the younger generations, not as familiar with the original series, learned that the term “Danno is actually a term of endearment that Grace uses instead of “daddy” or “father” for Danny.   When McGarrett overhears an adorable exchange between Danny and his daughter, he takes a mental note and busts out with, “Book ‘em Danno” at the scene of their first arrest, much to Danny’s dismay. 

Danny operates more like a police officer should (the term “by the book” comes to mind), therefore he disagrees with McGarrett’s way of doing things.  The banter between the two partners adds a humorous element to the show, although many original Hawaii Five-O fans believe that the Danny of the ‘70s would never have talked to the McGarrett of the’70s the way our current day Danny does. 

The third and fourth members of the team, Chin-Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim from Lost) and Kono Kalakaua (Grace Park from Battlestar Galactica), are native Hawaiians with a history of their own. 

Chin-Ho was excused from the Hawaii Police Department for allegedly stealing money and his cousin Grace is the only family member who hasn’t disowned him over the supposed crime.  This matter is cleared up towards the end of season one, but we’re not offering up any SPOILER alerts today.    

Grace, a former professional surfer and recent graduate from the Police Academy, anxiously joins the Five-O task force to work with her cousin, even if it means she’ll never get to wear the HPD uniform that she worked so very hard to earn.   

Other recurring characters include: Kamekona (Taylor Wiley, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), a confidential informant and shaved-ice vendor who sometimes babysits Grace for McGarrett and Danny; Max Bergman (Masi Oka, Heroes), the medical examiner/coroner; Victor Hesse (James Marsters, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), murderer and Wo Fat associate; and Jenna Kaye (Larisa Oleynik, The Baby-Sitters Club and 3rd Rock from the Sun), a former CIA agent and consultant/assistant to the Five-0 team.

The creators and CBS have brought back a classic in style, and they have glorified the beauties of the islands of Hawaii for the rest of the world to see.   Regardless of all the nay-sayers out there, I give Hawaii Five-0 a MacTV rating.   There aren’t many television programs that both my guy and I like to watch simultaneously, and this happens to be one of them. 

I really wanted to give McGarrett and Danno a GTV rating, but I just don’t quite think Beef Wellington and an expensive bottle of Cabernet when I think of Hawaii Five-0; instead, I think meatloaf covered in chili sauce served with shells-n-cheese and an ice-cold beer.  Every Monday night we sit curled up with our dinner plates in our laps enthralled in the action and mystery while shoveling the yummy food into our mouths without paying the least bit of attention to the mess we’re making.  Guilty pleasure, agree? 

What do you think? Do you like the new Hawaii Five-0 or prefer the original?  Are you like me and would watch Alex O’Laughlin in anything that guarantees the occasional shirtless scene (Navy SEALS swim a lot!)?  What do you think of Scott Caan – does he remind you of his father, James Caan (you knew that, right?)?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of Nathan Fillion….I mean, the crime and mystery drama Castle on CBS!  What happens when a mystery writer tags along with a detective?  Said writer gathers tons of writing material! 

Come back next week when Amber and I continue to review a few more of our favorite programs on CBS returning this fall – the Thursday night hit, The Mentalist, and the Friday night sophomore, Blue Bloods.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday in the future.  We’re currently working on our September schedule and would love to chat with you!

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

Friday FabOoolousness: Classics That Keep Us Coming Back for More

Reading is one of the most widespread pastimes today.  Almost everyone reads something, whether it is newspapers, books in print or articles on the World Wide Web. 

Think about it – walking through the airport, what do we most commonly see? 

Someone’s nose is buried deep inside the latest fiction release or entertainment magazine, or they’re glued to one of the popular reading devices like a Kindle, Nook, Notepad, or even a smart phone.

Most works anymore are a onetime read.  But, there are materials out there that we can read over and over again – Classics.

Classics most oftentimes relate to classic works of literature, stories written decades and decades ago that most of us were introduced to in English class as mandatory reads.  Were we excited to read these stories when forced down our throats?  Maybe not.  But, do we appreciate them today?  Most of us do.

Classics can also refer to movies, particularly a few motion pictures adapted from those very same literary tales.  Of course, there are thousands of classic films that don’t retell a famous piece of literature, but for the sake of today’s post, we’re taking a look back at a few that do. 

*****

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare in the 1500’s

One of Shakespeare’s most popular works, Romeo and Juliet may be the most tragic love story ever told.  Many people have complained about reading Shakespeare, but I personally feel that his brilliant use of unrhymed iambic pentameter throughout Romeo and Juliet sends the reader back in time to the intended period and setting.  Shakespeare also connects with audiences of all generations with the universal themes of love and fate, and the destruction of the star-crossed lovers. 

For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
~ William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare’s tragedy was depicted into a motion picture in 1968. Sir Laurence Olivier narrated the film, while Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey played the young lovers.  The music composed by Nino Rota still gives me goose bumps when I hear it today. 

The classic was adapted again in 1996 starring two of Hollywood’s biggest young stars – Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.  This time titled, Romeo + Juliet, Shakespeare’s story is modernized while the cast still uses Shakespearean dialogue.  It’s simply wonderful. 

Oh, and the soundtrack is amazing ‘90s fun featuring Garbage, Everclear, Des’ree, Butthole Surfers, The Cardigans, and Radiohead. 

*****

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens in 1861

Even though Dickens wrote Great Expectations a hundred and fifty years ago, he explores themes very prevalent to today such as social class and ambition.  The story is narrated by orphan Pip as he navigates his life from his poor childhood upbringing through a very well provided for adulthood.  He travels his journey believing that his mysterious benefactor is the wealthy and callous Miss Havisham, but later learns that it is actually the criminal he stole for as a child. 

Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule. ~ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Love and tragedy represent two additional themes in Great Expectations.  Pip experiences devastation associated with every relationship in his life, whether it is with his sister, Estella, Miss Havisham, or even The Convict.   

Dickens’ novel was adapted into a British film in 1946, again into a British television series in 1989, and most recently into a modernized motion picture starring Ethan Hawke (Pip’s character was renamed to Finn), Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert De Niro, and Anne Bancroft in 1998.  While the 1998 film did not attract the same critical acclaim as its 1946 predecessor (won two Academy Awards), I personally enjoyed it. 

Much like Romeo + Juliet, the soundtrack for Great Expectations is another ‘90s great featuring artists Tori Amos, Chris Cornell, Duncan Sheik, and The Verve Pipe.

*****

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in 1960

To Kill a Mockingbird exemplifies a work beyond its time, tackling racial stereotypes, socio-economic classes, and gender roles.  The mockingbird symbolizes the loss of innocence, one of the most prevalent themes throughout the novel.   Equality amongst all men and women also carries from start to finish, a courageous act by Lee. 

I think there’s just one kind of folks.  Folks.  ~ Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Characters Scout, Jem, and Atticus Finch captivate audiences through their bravery and strong core values.  The story not only follows the children’s acceptance of Boo Radley, a neighbor plagued with nasty town rumors, but also Atticus’ representation of a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white woman.

Lee’s work was adapted into a film starring the great Gregory Peck, as Atticus Finch, and Robert Duvall as Boo Radley, in 1962. Peck won the Academy Award for Best Actor, and child actress, Mary Badham was nominated for the Academy Award for best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Scout.

*****

What are some of your favorite classics that you have read over and over again?  Does your favorite work have a motion picture adaptation?  What are your thoughts on the new generation’s Romeo + Juliet and Great Expectations films?  Do you prefer the originals? Should Hollywood ever remake To Kill a Mockingbird? I’d love to hear from you!

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