Movie reviews

ORPHANED when his mother dies, Boston teenager Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormwald) moves to a small Midwest town to live with his uncle in Craig Brewer’s remake of Footloose (12A).

Movie reviews

Shocked to discover that dancing is illegal, Ren sets out to ‘shake up this town’, aided and abetted by wild child Ariel (Julianne Hough), daughter of the local preacher (Dennis Quaid). An odd confection of cheesy song-and-dance numbers, teen angst and an exploration of issues facing modern America (“Whatever happened to the separation of church and state?” Ren asks his uncle at one point), Brewer’s film is more than happy to hang onto the coattails of the original, which was released in 1984, while also remodelling the story for a contemporary audience. Thus, for example, we get an acoustic C&W version of Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero, which allows Brewer to riff on the original soundtrack without indulging in full-blown kitsch; meanwhile, the references to controversial and banned books that established Kevin Bacon’s Ren as a rebel with a cause are nowhere to be found. Brewer cuts to the chase: Ren’s desire to dance is both a cathartic means of personal expression and a communal activity that brings a community together. That one of the set-piece dance sequences involves line dancing will give you an idea of how subversive this Footloose is, or isn’t, and while Wormwald offers a likeable screen presence, and proves his dancing chops on a number of occasions, he lacks the intensity required to convincingly carry off the zeitgeist-changing speeches the script calls on him to make. He and Hough make for a cute couple, certainly, and their burgeoning romance is deftly handled, as is the conflict between Quaid’s overbearing father and Hough’s rebellious daughter, but ultimately it’s difficult to shake off the feeling that all the characters are acting on a dance mat, their moves a little too well practised to offer anything unique or authentic.

WRITTEN by Ciaran Creagh, directed by Darragh Byrne, Parked (15A) stars Colm Meaney in one of his most intriguing roles to date. Fred Daly (Meaney) returns to Dublin after living abroad for decades, but finds himself in a vicious circle: no address means no unemployment benefits, no benefits means no access to the system, no access means no housing. And so Fred lives in his car, in a car-park by the sea, with a junkie, Cathal (Colin Morgan), for a neighbour. Fred’s life is further complicated when he meets piano-player Juliana (Milka Ahlroth), a woman of refined taste whom Fred is keen to impress; and matters become messier still when Cathal’s drug-taking gets out of control, with the result that he becomes a punchbag for a local dealer. Downbeat and poignant, Parked is very much a film of its times, as Creagh and Byrne tap into the downward spiral of economic recession, with Meaney cutting a Kafkaesque figure as Fred Daly struggles to invest his helplessness with a scintilla of dignity. Original in concept, the story becomes increasingly predictable as it progresses, resulting in a worthy but staid character study of a man at the end of his tether.

ALBATROSS (15A) is another tale of teen angst, most of it originating from tearaway Emilia (Jessica Brown Findlay), who takes a cleaning job at a seaside B&B, makes friends with Beth (Felicity Jones), and embarks on a reckless affair with Beth’s father, Jonathan (Sebastian Koch), under the nose of his wife, Joa (Julia Ormond). Findlay, graduating to the big screen from TV’s Downton Abbey, is a livewire presence here, even if much of her rebellion is puerile, designed purely to shock. It’s a solid drama, although the director, debutant Niall MacCormick, attempts to cram too many characters and storylines into the 90 minutes.

THE latest version of The Three Musketeers (12A) takes a belt-and-braces approach in a bid to cater to virtually every taste on the planet, beefing up the original tale with flying galleons and Da Vinci Code-style adventuring as D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) blunders into the heart of a court intrigue being stage-managed by Cardinal Richlieu (Christoph Waltz). A belated contender for worst movie of the year, Paul W.S. Anderson’s film is a master-class in bluster and empty spectacle at the expense of characterisation and narrative tension. The settings are fabulous, and almost worth the price of admission alone; unfortunately, a number of sword-waving galoots get in the way.

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