So the Footloose remake comes out this week. I don’t have high hopes, despite the fact that the trailer looks passable and Dennis Quaid is in it. For me there will only be one Ren McCormack. A girl in my office, who is closer to the target demographic for this film, did comment that the actors seem a little more age appropriate this go round. Turns out not so much. While Ariel 2.0, Juliann Hough, is only 23, compared to a 27-year old Lori Singer. Kenny Wormald at 27 is one year older than Kevin Bacon when he danced his way into our hearts.
I don’t know what’s more surprising, casting agents for thinking an audience would buy a near thirty year old as a high school kid or audiences for in fact buying it. Take Grease, for example. John Travolta was only 24 when he played Danny Zucko, but Olivia Newton John was 30 and Stockard Channing who played Rizzo was 34—theoretically old enough to have kids in that class at Ridell High. Similarly, Matthew Broderick was 24 when he took his famous day off, and his girlfriend Mia Sara was 19, but his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) turned 30 on set.
I’m confused. When a forty-year old actress is cast as an ingénue we gasp—Sandra Bullock being the only obvious exception. Yet in movies about high school we’ve got the equivalent of Bette Davis in full Baby Jane attire showing up to audition for mean girl #3. Is anybody acting their age?
The answer is yes. Macauley Culken was just ten when he played eight-year old Kevin McAllister in Home Alone. Granted Dorothy Gale is only eleven in the Oz novels, but the 1939 film is obviously not trying to pass Judy Garland off as a pre-teen, however it may surprise you to know she was only 17 when she followed the yellow brick road. The winner of the age appropriate casting prize is Molly Ringwald who was in fact 16 when she made Sixteen Candles. That movie is overdue for a remake. With the way they cast teenages maybe Ringwald could reprise the role. Of course this is all assuming no one in Hollywood is lying about their age, but that seems like a safe bet…