I’ve been seeing Footloose trailers for months now and each time told the person I was with that I would NEVER go see it and that it was an absolute abomination that Hollywood decided to remake a perfectly good movie. But Craig Brewer’s update of the classic 80s dance film is actually a fun, energetic movie that is at its best when it doesn’t try too hard to be the original.

Though I wasn’t yet born when the original Footloose was released in 1984, I discovered it on DVD as a middle schooler and was instantly hooked. I watched it at least twice a week for probably six months. I had the soundtrack and made it clear to my mother that I NEEDED a pair of red boots like Lori Singer’s. The classic follows “city kid” Ren McCormack as he tries to fit in in a small town where dancing and loud music have been banned. This update doesn’t deviate from the original story any major ways, though a few plot points are moved around, most noticeably the car crash responsible for killing the five Bomont high school seniors, emphasizing that this incident, not an overly interfering religious agenda is responsible for the dance ban and the other restrictive Bomont laws.

The rest of the story is well known to most who know something about pop culture at this point: Ren (Kevin Bacon’s role taken on here by dancer turned actor Kenny Wormald), with the help of his new friend Willard (Chris Penn updated by Miles Teller), the goofball hick, and Ariel (Lori Singer and those red boots given to Dancing with the Stars Pro Julianne Hough), the rebel preacher’s daughter organizes a dance and fights against the city council to lift the ban.

Among the members of this city council is Reverend Shaw Moore, Ariel’s father, played here by Dennis Quaid. Every single time this character was on screen I longed for John Lithgow to jump in and oust Quaid so that his terrible performance would end. The same can be said for Andie McDowell’s Vi Moore, Ariel’s mother. Just awful. Lithgow and Dianne Wiest (the original’s Vi) were sorely missed. Surprisingly, these were the worst performances in the cast. Wormald and Hough, though clearly dancers first, actors second, were watchable and believable. Wormald could have kept the pouty lips a bit more under control, but it was nothing if you think back to the days of Emma Watson’s crazy, jumping eyebrows in the early Harry Potter films.

Hough doesn’t quite get the vulnerability Singer had in the original, but she nails the cocky, ‘I’m hot and a really awesome dancer’ confidence in her early scenes with Wormald and Quaid makes her look good in the father-daughter scenes. The real standouts in the cast are Teller’s Willard, and Ray McKinnon’s uncle Wes. Teller brings all the comic relief and sweetness of Penn’s original, and manages to bring the character out of the eighties with ease. The script allows McKinnon to play uncle Wes as a much funnier and not so stodgy character, which was surprising and genuinely funny.

And this is really what it comes down to for the new Footloose: when it doesn’t try to take itself so seriously and be a shot for shot, line for line, remake of the original, it is a funny, entertaining movie. Unfortunately, by trying to do both, the classic moments from the original stick out and feel forced. There is one classic sequence does work (Willard’s dance lessons) and Ren’s big dance number in the warehouse succeeds in staying true to the original as well – though it’s clear that one can’t get the same kind of cathartic release from poking really hard at the buttons on an iPod as was possible with jamming a tape into a tape player.

Which brings me to the music. The original was all about that awesome eighties soundtrack and it isn’t quite the same here in the update. Blake Shelton does a decent job on the Kenny Loggins’ title number, but it goes downhill quickly from there. “Holding Out For a Hero” is supposed to be the awesome background music to the tractor chicken race but here it is turned into a bad melodramatic pop ballad which plays over shots of Ren being sensitive alone in his bedroom just after Ariel seals the deal with that jerk Chuck Cranston. Very disappointing. “Almost Paradise” is decent and the updated music chosen for some of the bigger dance scenes works well too, but the only place they really nail it is in the Willard-learning-to-dance sequence. “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” has maybe never been better. Overall, the music is fine and doesn’t take anything away from the general quality of the film, but it could have been a bit better and it’s going to take me a while to get over how they disgraced Bonnie Tyler’s “Hero.”

Did the world need (or even want) a Footloose remake? No. Would it have been more interesting if someone had written an original script that could serve as the new dance film for a new generation? Yes. But is the Footloose remake we’ve been given an energetic, entertaining film that is funnier than the original and features some awesome dancing that Bacon and Singer only wish they had been capable of? Yes.

As much as I wanted to hate this (and I really wanted to hate this) and defend the original, I found myself sort of loving the new generation’s Footloose. Plus, it wasn’t a Grease 2, terrible sequel situation, for which we should all be giving thanks. The original will always be my favorite but this movie is fun and when it does try to be an update, rather than a copy of the 1984 classic, it succeeds.