Monday, 26 October 2009

Holdin' out for a director

I'm afraid it's bad news for fans of the eighties' 'boy-meets-girl-falls-foul-of-preacher-plays-chicken-in-tractor-teaches-best-friend-to-dance' classic Footloose. Its long-awaited remake will have to be hastily repositioned as 'really-long-awaited', with the news that director Kenny Ortega has left the project citing 'creative differences' with studio Paramount.

The original movie is something of guilty pleasure for those of us who grew up on the films of John Hughes. In the place of realistic teenagers and quotable dialogue, it gave us Lori Singer on top of a truck, Kevin Bacon wearing jeans so tight he revealed more than in his Wild Things nude scene, and the most homoerotic montage of all-time.

Apparently, the fall-out between director and studio came about largely because of a dispute over the tone of the movie. Ortega wanted a big song-and-dance musical, whereas Paramount were pushing for a dramatic treatment more in keeping with the original.

Given his track-record as the choreographer on Dirty Dancing, and the director of all three High School Musicals, Ortega's passion for jazz-hands could hardly have come as a surprise to the producers, so why did they appoint him in the first place?

As with any remake, the challenge is to find a way of telling the story in a new way, whilst retaining the essence of the original that the fans hold dear. Unfortunately, films like Footloose play best in the VHS-fuzz of nostalgia rather than the cold light of day.

It sounds as though he Paramount execs need to hold a slumber party to reconnect with the movie itself, rather than the legend. Chances are, they'll be begging Ortega to come back before Bonnie Tyler even changes key.

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