Attenuated mourning replaces religiosity’s rectitude. (Lines like “We cannot be missing from our children’s lives,” invoked by Dennis Quaid’s preacher-father character, resonate beyond the film.) The young actors are virtual unknowns, but leads Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough have a range of well-trained moves that Brewer allows them to show off. Of course he’s a fish out of water, he’s a Shark, he’s a Jet, he’s from Bah-ston. (It’s hard out here for a Southie, especially when he often looks like a fluffed-and-folded version of Johnny Depp’s “Cry Baby” character.) Slightly profane dialogue mingles with inspired moments such as a clutch of four-year-old girls teaching one of the teen boys the assured dance moves he’s going to need. The variety of music suggests less a jukebox than a recently dropped iPod forgetting how to properly shuffle. And yes, there is a sunstruck-yellow VW bug fixer-upper in the mix. Cinematographer Amy Vincent shot Brewer’s two prior features, as well as “Eve’s Bayou” and “Jawbreaker.” There’s a lot of attention to lighting effects, such as a first kiss at sundown’s golden hour, not only with the sun between the couple’s faces, but their faces fashioning a liquid, shimmering heart shape. With Andie MacDowell, Miles Teller, Patrick John Flueger. 113m. (Ray Pride)
“Footloose” opens Friday.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.