The stars were out in Franklin, a few miles south of Nashville, Thursday night as a taste of Hollywood glitz arrived for the Tennessee premiere of “Footloose,” the updated remake of the classic 1984 dance movie that now features Kenny Wormald from MTV’s Dancelife and Julianne Hough (left) in the lead roles of Ren MacCormack and Ariel Moore, originally played by Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer. In the new production, Dennis Quaid plays rebellious Ariel’s conservative preacher father, Andie MacDowell plays her mother and, in one of the more entertaining performances of the movie, Miles Teller plays small-town local Willard, who befriends Ren who moves in with relatives in tiny Bomont for his high school senior year after the death of his mother in Boston. Under Ren’s tutelage, Willard’s transformation from non-dancing good ole boy to the man with a thousand moves is a joy to behold. And, as in the original, dancing is definitely the driving force in the storyline, which finds Ren transplanted to a town that has banned dancing, loud music and most other things teens think are fun in the wake of a tragic head-on collision three years earlier that took the lives of five teens (including Ariel’s brother, Bobby) following a night of—you guessed it—dancing and partying. The new production stays mostly true to the original storyline that follows Ren’s efforts to remove the town’s restrictive ordinances and sees him lose his heart to Ariel in the process. But Director Craig Brewer’s use of updated music (mostly modern country) and new scenes, such as a wild figure-8 bus race that replaces the original game of tractor “chicken,” definitely gives fans of the first “Footloose” reason to check out the second. Performances throughout are strong, and special kudos go to Julianne for digging deep to display some seriously believable emotion. And, needless to say, she delivers the goods when it’s time to—as her shirt says during a pivotal town council meeting—”dance your ass off.”
But, while the invitation-only movie was definitely the main event last night, the hundreds of fans on Franklin’s Main Street came out to see their favorite stars walk the red—actually, last night’s was black—carpet before showtime. And there was plenty of star power to behold, including Kenny and the lovely Julianne; Blake Shelton, who sings the heck out of the title tune on the soundtrack; and Big & Rich (right), whose soundtrack performance of “Fake I.D.” featuring Gretchen Wilson is absolutely a highlight of the movie. Asked by Nashville.com which of them would’ve won an audition to fill the last remaining dancer role in the movie, John immediately replied, “Big Kenny, hands down. Have you ever been to one of our shows? He can levitate!” John was quick to add, however, that he, John, is a mere one degree of separation from Kevin Bacon, having Kev’s number on his cell phone. Kenny chimed in, “I guess that makes me two degrees away.”
Addressing rumors that he and wife Miranda Lambert just might be expectant parents, Blake dismissed the gossip as only he can, alluding to their very busy schedules, “She’s not pregnant. And I’m not pregnant. You’d actually have to touch each other once in a while for that to happen.” Good to know. True to form, he says his musical contribution to the film “reflects the desperation of the Paramount people who put together the soundtrack that they asked me to (sing the title cut.)” You gotta love him.
New Big Machine Records artist Ella Mae Brown, whose performance of “Holding Out For a Hero” is one of the best on the soundtrack, also met with media and fans on the carpet, as did stunning Whitney Duncan (below right), whose “So Sorry Mama” rocks the soundtrack with plenty of country attitude.
Other soundtrack artists who put in an appearance last night included actress (and new Warner Bros. Nashville recording artist) Jana Kramer (below), whose cover of “Let’s Hear It For the Boy” accompanies one of the movie’s cutest scenes; fan favorite Hunter Hayes, who joined Victoria Justice in doing a strong reprise of “Almost Paradise;” Lissie (“Little Lovin’ “) and A Thousand Eyes (“Suicide Eyes”).
While he isn’t involved in the film and didn’t walk the carpet, Trace Adkins and wife Rhonda turned out to see the movie but, because the screening was running a little late and Trace had to make a 9 p.m. bus call to head out for his next gig, they had to depart early. Very nice of the two of them to come out to support some of their fellow country music artists with so little time available to do it.
Another star, from a different realm of the entertainment world, also came out to say hello to fans and enjoy the screening. Yes, affable Tennessee Titans linebacker Will “Spoon” Witherspoon put in an appearance and gave Nashville.com his thoughts on which of the Titans might have dance moves good enough to be in a future re-make of “Footloose.” “Well, I think I’d have to say Cortland Finnegan would be right up there, and Michael Griffin has some moves . . . and me, of course,” he laughed. So, what about new quarterback Matt Hasselbeck? “Maybe if they needed somebody to do a waltz or something.” Ouch.—David Scarlett
Footloose Soundtrack (2011) – Track List
1. Footloose – Blake Shelton
2. Where the River Goes – Zac Brown of Zac Brown Band
3. Little Lovin’ – Lissie
4. Holding Out for a Hero – Ella Mae Brown
5. Let’s Hear it for the Boy – Jana Kramer
6. So Sorry Mama – Whitney Duncan
7. Fake I.D. – Big & Rich feat. Gretchen Wilson
8. Almost Paradise – Victoria Justice & Hunter Hayes
9. Walkin’ Blues – Cee Lo Green feat. Kenny Wayne Shepherd
10. Window Paine – The Smashing Pumpkins
11. Suicide Eyes – A Thousand Eyes
12. Dance the Night Away – David Banner
Photos: David Scarlett