After a long night of partying, Bobby Moore and four of his friends drink beer and drive over a bridge, not paying attention to the road. Their car crashes into a truck, killing all five of the teens. Bobby's father Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid), the reverend of the church of the small Southern United States town of Bomont, Georgia, persuades the city council to pass several paternalistic laws, including a ban on all unsupervised dancing within the city limits.
Three years later, Ren McCormack (Kenny Wormald), a teenager raised in Boston, moves to Bomont to live with his uncle Wesley (Ray McKinnon), aunt Lulu (Kim Dickens), and cousins after his mother's death from leukemia and his father abandoning them. Soon after arriving, Ren makes friends with Willard Hewitt (Miles Teller), a fellow senior at Bomont High, and from him Ren learns about the ban on dancing.
He soon begins to be attracted to Moore's rebellious daughter - Bobby's sister Ariel (Julianne Hough) - who is dating dirt-track driver Chuck Cranston (Patrick Flueger). At an illegal dance-off stint by the cafe, Ren gets to dance with Ariel, much to the consternation of Chuck that he then dares Ren to race him using buses. Despite his inability to drive a bus, Ren wins.
Reverend Moore distrusts Ren and forbids Ariel from ever seeing him again, mistaking Ariel's rebelliousness to be due to Ren's influence. Ren and his classmates want to do away with the law and have a senior prom. Ren also teaches Willard how to dance.
After a while Ariel begins to fall for Ren and dumps Chuck, and he beats her up. Moore initially wants Ren arrested for Ariel's beaten condition, but Ariel tells him that he can't blame everything on Ren just like he did with Bobby, who was killed in the car crash. She then reveals that she is no longer a virgin, which prompts her dad to slap her across the face.
Moore's wife, Vi (Andie MacDowell), is supportive of the movement to allow dancing. She explains to Moore he cannot be everyone's father, and that he is hardly being a good father to Ariel. She also says that dancing and music are not the problem.
Ren goes before the city council to plead for the petition. He then reads several Bible verses, given to him by Ariel, that describe how in ancient times people would dance to rejoice, exercise, celebrate, and/or worship. The city council votes against him.
Daunted, Ren tries to move on but his employer, Mr Beamis convinces to hold the prom at the cotton mill where he works as it is just outside the Bomont city limits. Ren goes to see Moore, knowing that Moore still has enough influence to pressure the parents not to let their teenagers come. Ren tells Moore that even though they denied the motion to dismiss the law, they cannot stop the teenagers from having the dance at the cotton mill. He then asks him respectfully if he can take Ariel.
On Sunday, Shaw talks about giving more trust to the children in order to have them be trustworthy. He then asks his congregation to pray for the high school students putting on the prom, much to everyone's delights.
On the day of the prom, Ariel and Shaw reconcile and bury their hatchets. Ren then comes to pick Ariel up, with blessings from her parents.
Not long after Ren and Ariel arrive at the prom, Chuck and several of his friends ride up, intent on beating up Ren. However, Ren and Willard fend them off along with Rusty and Ariel's help.
Rejoiced with triumph, Ren then flings some confetti into a shredding machine and yells, "Let's dance!" The movie ends with everyone dancing in the barn to the song from the opening credits, "Footloose".
i love the songs in this movie, they are so catchy. and the protagonist, Ren is so likable. he's decent and talented. smart too. as for Ariel, she's just a little girl lost in the woods.
the movie delivers a good message to the young teenagers, in an example of Ren. he doesn't dabble with drugs and he works for his keep. he refused to continue sneaking to neighboring town in order to dance. instead he filed a petition in order for the rest of the young people in Bomont to gain their freedom to dance. and he respects Ariel even when she herself doesn't.
it's kinda sweet, to see Ariel's redemption. JH plays her role brilliantly. there is the vulnerability and rebelliousness in good measure. plus, the chemistry was there between the lovebirds. and i love to see how it developed, bit by bit, as Ren didn't quickly swooped in to be his boyfriend. he waited and even later asked Shaw's permission to take her to the prom, instead of sneaking around.
i enjoyed it. very much.