High School Movie Showdown – The Party Animals

It has been a while since the last High School Movie Showdown, a Friday FabOoolousness series here at The Ooo Factor where we take two popular movies in the teenage genre and pit them against one another.  We’ll feature the classics (like Grease), some popular Generation Xers (like Clueless), and some that are a bit more recent to the scene (like Project X).

Today, we’re taking a look at some party animals…

Late one night, as I flipped through the channels, I happened upon Can’t Hardly Wait.  Like I do with a handful of the ‘90s classics I have seen numerous times, I sat down and watched the film again from start to finish. I say again because it had to be at least the fifth or sixth time…  And while the movie might seem a tad dated, looking at the outfits and the hairstyles, it reminded me why it will forever be one of my favorite movies about high school.

Not long after watching Can’t Hardly Wait, as I was waiting for a new flick to begin, the channel I happened to be watching aired a preview for another movie—American Reunion.  I’ve already seen American Reunion a few times and truly enjoyed it; but if it weren’t for the first film in the franchise, American Pie, the highly successful sequels wouldn’t have been made in the first place.

Can’t Hardly Wait and American Pie… two ’90s greats about high schoolers, crushes, love, sex, and partying.

This got me to thinking… when paired up side-by-side, which of these films would win?

Both films do share a few similarities: both are loaded with popular young actors from that particular generation (Can’t Hardly Wait stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Peter Facinelli, and Seth Green… and American Pie stars Alyson Hannigan, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Sean William Scott, and Chris Klein); both introduced new actors and actresses and are partially responsible for kick-starting their current popularity (Lauren Ambrose, Jason Segal, Clea Duvall, Jamie Pressly, Donald Faison, Selma Blair, Jason Biggs, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Shannon Elizabeth, and John Cho); and both relied on a few familiar faces in cameo roles—some of which were uncredited—to help get people interested in the films (Jenna Elfman, Jerry O’Connell, Melissa Joan Hart, Breckin Meyer, Blink 182, and Casey Affleck).

The overall messages of the two movies are not all that different—in high school, everyone wants to fit in, to belong to a group; everyone is searching for that one true connection, emotionally and physically; everyone is awkward and insecure in one way or another, regardless of their current popularity status; and more times than not, high schoolers look to blow off steam (and celebrate) the same way—to party.

William cutting loose for the first time – Can’t Hardly Wait

However, the two films are also different.  For one, Can’t Hardly Wait is filmed almost entirely at a post-graduation party (the opening and closing scenes take place elsewhere).  This was because the filmmakers believed the majority of the best scenes of the ‘80s teen movies took place at parties (such as Jake’s party during Sixteen Candles).  American Pie follows a group of guys (and their respective girlfriends) through their high school days, extracurriculars, and even their “private” time.

Also, despite the fact both flicks are categorized as teen comedies, Can’t Hardly Wait, for the most part, keeps it semi-clean; while American Pie falls into a sub-category I have grown to love over the years—raunchy comedy.  After all, the boys are obsessed with losing their virginity before graduation.  Heck, Jim even practices sex on a pie!

But probably the biggest difference?  Only one launched into a multi-million dollar franchise—American Pie.

Jim, his dad, and “the pie” – American Pie

Bottom line, both films were popular in their day.  And both will probably achieve cult classic success and live on through their fans year after year.  But which one would win in a head to head battle?  The love story of Amanda Beckett (JLH) and Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry), or the coming-of-age stories of Jim, Oz, Stifler, Kevin, and Finch?

The fact that I had to clarify who Amanda Beckett and Preston Meyers are probably gives my winner away…

American Pie.

How about you?  Can’t Hardly Wait or American Pie?  I’d love to hear from you!

Oh, and the music in both movies will definitely take you back to the ’90s…

Can’t Hardly Wait includes artists Third Eye Blind, Blink 182, Smash Mouth, Guns N’ Roses, Boys II Men, Creed, Tone Loc, and even Barry Manilow.

American Pie also features Third Eye Blind and Blink 182, as well as Sugar Ray, The Barenaked Ladies, Tonic, and Everclear.

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.

%d bloggers like this: