6 Differences Between The Original “Footloose” Film & Its 2011 Remake

(Left) Footloose (1984) / Facebook/(Right) Footloose / Facebook/(Background) Footloose (1984) / Facebook

Creating A Musical Remake

When a film is successful, a remake or sequel often follows. Fans tend to have lukewarm feelings for remakes, as they worry about them changing up the original film too much. After all, when a movie is as beloved as say, John Wanye‘s True Grit, it’s understandable why the 2010 adaptation was met with opposition.

Musicals are easier films to redo, mainly because their musical numbers provide a solid framework for any remake to follow. As long as all of the signature songs are included, things seem similar enough to audiences.

In 2011 a remake of the movie musical Footloose hit theaters. In doing so, the remake introduced its musical numbers to a whole new generation.

Some Key Changes

The original version of Footloose, starring Kevin Bacon as Ren and Lori Singer as Ariel, debuted in 1984. It was a smash success, hailed for its upbeat dance numbers set to rock and roll tunes.

A stage production made its debut in 1998, and was a popular musical at high schools and universities across the country. The Footloose fever was still in full swing when, in 2011, the remake starring Kenny Wormald as Ren and Julianne Hough as Ariel debuted.

While the remake stayed true to the original film in many ways, there were some major changes it made to stand out.

We’re going to point out just a few differences between the two movies in this list. While we will focus on some major and more obvious changes, we’re also going to point out some more subtle changes that you may not have picked up on so easily!

Difference #1 – One’s A Little Bit Country, One’s A Little Rock & Roll

The original version of Footloose‘s soundtrack had a purely rock and roll vibe. Artists such as Bonnie Tyler, Sammy Hagar, and Mike Reno all contributed songs to the film.

Arguably the most memorable contributions came from Kenny Loggins, who sang its title song “Footloose” as well as “I’m Free,” the song Ren dances to in the warehouse. 

The 2011 version of the film shook things up by making the soundtrack almost entirely country, eliminating the rock and roll feeling all together. Artists who appear on the soundtrack include Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, and Jana Kramer.

It was Blake Shelton who was given the honor of singing the film’s famous title track. His rendition did quite well, appearing on both the country and all-genre charts.

Difference #2 – The Years They Take Place

The 1984 version of the film was set in the same decade that it was filmed. So everything from the fashion, to the cars, to the technology was distinctly 80s.

When it came time for the remake, they could have followed the original film’s lead and harkened back to the 80s to maintain that style. After all, that’s the era the theatrical production is traditionally set in.

But instead, the team behind the remake decided to set it in the then-modern day as well. Cassette tapes were traded for iPods and CDs and the clothes were less conservative.

The one thing that stayed the same? Ren’s vintage Volkswagen Beatle!

Difference #3 – Ren’s Hometown & New Town

In the original Footloose film, Ren moves from Chicago to the town of Bomont, Utah. This is one of those subtle details that you likely never picked up on before, so you probably didn’t realize how it changed in the remake.

Perhaps to make the 2011 version of the film seem even more country, it was set in the town of Bomont, Georgia. The story was also altered to have Ren move there from Boston instead of Chicago.

Here’s a bonus difference for y’all that ties into all of this. The original film has Ren moving to Bomont with his mother to live with his aunt and uncle. As for the remake, the reason he moves in with his aunt and uncle is because his mom just passed away.

This adds a sad bit of backstory that actually makes Reverend Moore (Ariel’s father), a bit more sympathetic toward him.

Difference #4 – The “Chicken” Scene

In the original movie, Ariel’s boyfriend Chuck challenges Ren to a game of chicken with tractors. Ren agrees to participate, and actually ends up winning when his shoelace gets stuck, preventing him from stopping the tractor.

This scene was one of the most nerve-racking moments in the 1984 version of the film. Somehow, they made it even more intense in 2011.

The new Footloose movie has Ren, Chuck, and two other drivers racing school buses rather than playing chicken with tractors.

While that was a major change to a key scene in the original film, one aspect stayed the same…Ren ends up winning because of something he can’t control. Instead of getting his shoelace caught, the remake has his brakes go out, causing him to crash into Chuck and win.

Difference #5 – The Mention Of Books

Here’s another one of those subtle changes that is so small, it probably flew right past you. 

In the original film, there was also a ban on certain books in addition to the ban placed on dancing and loud music. When someone approaches Reverend Moore about having students read the book Slaughterhouse-Five and Ren calls it a “classic,” he is met with disproval from the citizens of Bomont.

This book issue ends up playing a pivotal role in the film. Reverend Moore experiences a turning point in his thoughts when he sees his neighbors burning books they don’t want the kids to read.

He stops their actions, and realizes just how out of control the town’s restrictive laws are.

The reason why you likely didn’t notice any difference regarding the book issue in the 2011 remake is because there was no issue. Banned books are never mentioned except for in passing, and there aren’t any scenes devoted to them like there were in the original movie.

Difference #6 – A Key Plot Point Is Shown In One & Not The Other

The pivotal moment in both Footloose films that sets everything in motion is the accident in which Ariel’s brother, Bobby, loses his life after spending a night out listening to music and dancing.

Wanting to protect the town’s other children from the same fate his son met, Reverend Moore established the bans on dancing and music that ended up being challenged and eventually overturned by Ren.

There is a huge difference in the way that the two films handled this topic. The original version doesn’t reveal the accident until much later, and then it is only explained in a conversation between Ren and Ariel.

However, the 2011 remake addresses the accident right away. It even depicts it, making it the first scene in the entire movie. 

By doing so, the 2011 version of the film set a more emotional tone from the start, rather than a little later on. It also provides some context as to why the bans are in place, so you as the audience understand the reason for them even when Ren does not.

Well there you have it…those are just six of the key changes in the 2011 remake of Footloose that made it stand out from the original. Did you ever pick up on any of them before?

Want to see one more difference? Check out the video below to watch a comparison of how the final dance scene in the remake differs from the same scene in the original movie.

Which version of the film is your favorite? We love them both, so it’s too hard for us to choose!