Did you see the 1984 original? If so, you will recall that this film launched Kevin Bacon's career. Now let's see if this sweet-spirited version (which duplicates many of the original scenes verbatim!) will do the same for our new Ren McCormack. Judging by the energy level of the screening audience as we exited the theater, I think it might.
  • Kenny Wormald ("Center Stage: Turn It Up") is Ren, who, after his mother died, was transplanted from Boston to this podunk town out in the hinterlands of Texas, where his love of dancing hits a stone wall. Wormald is a former backup dancer for Justin Timberlake, who recommended him for this role. Good call, Justin!
  • Dennis Quaid ("Vantage Point") is Reverend Moore, the grieving minister who had a town ordinance passed that outlawed dancing three years ago after five teenagers were killed, including his boy.
  • Julianne Hough ("Dancing With the Stars") is Ariel, the minister's daughter, rebellious and in pain because her father's sole focus is on his dead son and not on his living daughter.
  • Andie MacDowell ("Groundhog Day") is Vi, the minister's wife. Her job is to referee the battles between her husband and their daughter and to provide another point of view when it's needed ...which is fairly often.
  • Ray McKinnon ("The Blind Side") surprised me as Ren's Uncle Wes, because this gawky hick turned out to be fair, supportive and wise. I'm always shocked when I have to revise my expectations of a character that are based on a few prejudices of my own.
  • Miles Teller is a revelation! That sad, bewildered teenager from "Rabbit Hole" is the guy Ren and his nieces teach to dance. He's funny and (eventually) he really dances in a highly entertaining montage; I always like to watch someone master a new skill.
Of course you have the usual coterie of chums and high-school faculty, plus members of that well-meaning town council, so there are many capable actors who get to strut their stuff. The line dancing is enjoyable, but the grudge race using school buses left me cold.

I'm glad the film starts with that horrific wreck, it's a great illustration of the hazards of drinking and driving! I appreciate the clean-shaven look of the principal players–only the bad guys are scruffy. This version, like the first, does NOT devolve into an anti-religious screed, but instead respects the convictions of the principals, e.g., Ren uses the Old Testament in his petition to the city council.

This film is PG-13, so you'll hear a smattering of profanity and see the promise of nudity, but not the real thing. No gunshots or blowie uppie stuff, but you DO see what a reckless wench Ariel has become. Don't hate me Kevin Bacon, but given the athleticism of today's dancers, I like this one better than yours.

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Please forgive the ad before the preview:
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