Craig Brewer is a director who gravitates to stories about the underbelly of society — pimps, hookers and nymphomaniacs were the protagonists in his first two films, the award-winning “Hustle and Flow” and his Christina Ricci, Samuel L. Jackson-starrer “Black Snake Moan.” But on a sunny March afternoon, Brewer was sitting in an edit bay on the Paramount Pictures lot, fretting over the first 20 minutes of his new, much more wholesome movie he’d just showed to a reporter.
“If I mess up ‘Footloose,’ I’m not sure how I can live the rest of my life knowing that,” Brewer said of his remake of the 1984 classic starring Kevin Bacon about a city boy who comes to a small town and discovers that dancing has been banned. “A lot of people don’t realize just how important ‘Footloose’ was to me as a 13-year-old.”
As the son of two progressive hippies who were constantly trying to escape their Southern roots, Brewer moved often as a kid, leaving his family’s small town outside Memphis, Tenn., for Virginia, then Chicago and eventually a suburb of Oakland. The filmmaker, now 39, said he related to the fish-out-of-water tale written by Dean Pitchford. “I was a chubby kid that couldn’t play sports. I always felt like an outsider at home. When I saw ‘Footloose,’ I thought, ‘This is the fantasy of what I feel like.'”