The teen, male version of Flashdance inspired a love of dancing to bad pop music -- especially if you could do the move where you run, jump, and slide on the dance floor on your knees. Cool, man!
Footloose is one of those films that's both appallingly bad and completely watchable at the same time, the story of a city kid (Kevin Bacon) who moves to a midwestern Bible Belt town with his parents -- a town where pretty much everything is outlawed, especially dancing and rock music. Hell, there's even a book burning now and then.
Bacon's Ren (great name, kid) immediately tries to change their backward ways -- which include playing chicken with tractors and driving across the county line to go to the country/western bar -- by launching a campaign for bands like Men at Work (sample dialogue: "Where do they work?") and The Police. But there aren't any good '80s bands on this soundtrack. Instead it's crap like Kenny Loggins (with the title track) and Denise Williams (remember her?).
Despite a love affair with the grotesquely unattractive Lori Singer, Bacon carries this movie with an unending series of dance moves that have never before or since been performed by a heterosexual man. Who choreographed this nonsense? Paula Abdul? Where is DJ Scat Cat?
Footloose has so much heart plus a legitimate message (that the Southern Baptist religion is really, really stupid) that it makes the film hard to dislike. But the movie is so sadly, sadly dated (what with all the breakdancing) that it's equally hard to fall for again.
Kenny Loggins, save us!
The new special edition DVD adds a giddy commentary track from Bacon, another from the film's writer and producer, and an extensive retrospective about the making of the film which discusses its inspiration and semi-historical origins.
In honor of Footloose's 20th anniversary, we present additional commentary from critic Aaron Lazenby:
Apropos of the year it was made, 1984's Footloose is cinematic equivalent of a Betamax machine. It's a novel idea, and not a badly executed one at that. And this artifact, permanently frozen in 1980s' amber like the upstart VHS competitor, inspires its share of nostalgic chuckles and embarrassed head shakes. Nevertheless, despite regrettable dialogue ("Jump back!" "This guy doesn't know a dance from a dipstick") and embarrassingly goofy situations (A chicken race with tractors? Dancing away your frustrations in a flour mill?), good-natured Footloose remains surprisingly enjoyable.
Bomont is a microscopic rural town where scandalous books like Slaughterhouse-Five are banned from schools, rock and roll music is the devil's soundtrack, and local law prohibits public dancing. Leading this Midwestern Taliban is Rev. Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), a fiery man of God capable of influencing most of the adult minds in Bomont. Turning his son's drunk-driving death into a public crusade to save the teenage souls of the town, Moore puts Bomont on Moral Majority-style lockdown while increasingly alienating his naughty daughter Ariel (Lori Singer).
Sound like the perfect opportunity for a rebellious outsider to shake up the status quo and liberate Bomont's youth from their killjoy parents? Damn straight. Abandoned by his father, Ren (Kevin Bacon) is forced to move with his mom to this stifling town. Within hours of his arrival, the Chicago-bred hipster is forced to confront a shocking fact: he's not on Lakeshore drive anymore. In short notice, Ren finds himself under the close scrutiny of distrusting adults, attention that gets him unfairly dismissed from the high school gymnastics team, unjustly accused of drug use and generally regarded as a troublemaker.
Armed with a wholesome rebellious streak and a new group of corn-fed friends (including an almost unrecognizable Chris Penn as Ren's well-meaning chucklehead cohort) Ren fights back with the only weapon he has: dance! Ren wants to throw a prom for his fellow seniors, complete with forbidden boogieing. Will he be able to convince the powers that be to lighten up, inspire some emotional healing, get the girl and have a bitchin' summer? Take a guess.
The cast does its damnedest to make this most of these coming of age clichés. Do not forget that Footloose marks drinking game icon Kevin Bacon's first starring role, and he glides though his scenes with strangely exaggerated, but graceful moves reminiscent of John Travolta in Grease. And Bacon's slightly spastic charm and teen-like geekiness makes him totally believable as Ren. Lithgow provides dramatic main course, believably easing between his high-minded public persona and his shattered private life. Even an ebullient and very young Sarah Jessica Parker shows up in a minor role, playing off of her recent Square Pegs success.
Unfortunately, the film inelegantly blends the familiar generation gap conflicts with musical interludes. At moments, it's unclear what kind of movie veteran helmer Herbert Ross is trying to make. Abrubt changes in tone between playful dance numbers and anguished domestic scenes beg the question: is Footloose is predominantly a musical or a drama? Portrayals of Ariel self-destructive streak, Rev. Shaw's awakening to the motives of his campaign, and a wacky prom night hoedown ensure that question is left unanswered.
For all Footloose has going for it, the film cannot get out from under the weight of the white-boy dancing, the wince inducing fashion, and the soulless electro-pop of high-'80s pop culture. Footloose is an amusing rewind, but it's a citizen of another era.
Run time: 107 mins
In Theaters: Friday 17th February 1984
Distributed by: Paramount Home Video
Production compaines: Spyglass Entertainment, MTV Films
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 56%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 16
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Herbert Ross
Producer: Lewis J. Rachmil, Craig Zadan
Screenwriter: Dean Pitchford
Starring: Kenny Wormald as Ren MacCormack, Julianne Hough as Ariel Moore, Dennis Quaid as Rev. Shaw Moore, Andie MacDowell as Vi Moore, Miles Teller as Willard, Ray McKinnon as Wes Warnicker, Patrick John Flueger as Chuck Cranston (as Patrick John Flueger), Kim Dickens as Lulu Warnicker, Ziah Colon as Rusty Rodriguez, Ser'Darius Blain as Woody, L. Warren Young as Andy Beamis, Brett Rice as Roger Dunbar, Maggie Elizabeth Jones as Amy Warnicker (as Maggie Jones), Mary-Charles Jones as Sarah Warnicker, Enisha Brewster as Etta, Josh Warren as Rich, Corey Flaspoler as Russell, Anessa Ramsey as Caroline, Jason Ferguson as Travis, Frank Hoyt Taylor as Mr. Parker, Jayson Smith as Officer Herb, Claude Phillips as Claude, Clay Chappell as Councilperson, Tony Vaughn as Councilperson, Tony Vaughn as Councilperson, Daniel Burnley as Councilperson, Jack Davidson as Councilperson, Alisa Pettit as Councilperson, Tracy Goode as Judge, Clayton Landey as Coach Guerntz, John Still as Track Official, Brian Durkin as Big Cowboy, Amber Wallace as Instructor, Sandra Ellis Lafferty as Mrs. Allyson (as Sandra Lafferty), D. Dylan Schettina as Drive-In Bus Boy, Blair Jasin as Bobby, Jasmine Cook as Car Accident Victim, Reece Thomas as Car Accident Victim, Ivey Lowe as Car Accident Victim, Anna Marie Dobbins as Car Accident Victim, Kevin Renard Fisher as Woody's Cousin, Andrew Ruark as Cotton Gin Worker, Travis Young as Big Bubba, Jamal Sims as Kegger D. J., Kyle Wayne Cordova as Dancer, Alvester Martin as Dancer, Madison Benson as Kegger Dancer, Jonathan Sylvan Carey as Kegger Dancer, Craig Brewer as Kegger Dancer, Bubba Carr as Kegger Dancer (as Charles Carr), Sora Connor as Kegger Dancer (as Sarah Connor), Kasey Davage as Kegger Dancer, Chynna Dulac as Kegger Dancer, Brett Frost as Kegger Dancer, Terrence Gilbert Green as Kegger Dancer, Ashlyn Henson as Kegger Dancer, Cicely Kelley as Kegger Dancer, Elysandra Quinones as Kegger Dancer, Brandon Sauve as Kegger Dancer, Allan Skeene, Jr. as Kegger Dancer, Katherine Slatery as Kegger Dancer, Amanda Topper as Kegger Dancer, Jasmine Badie as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Sean Bankhead as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Terence Dickson as Drive-In Grill Dancer (as Terence Terell Dickson), Kiara Ely as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Comfort Fedoke as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Hannah Huddleston as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Stephen Stevo Jones as Drive-In Grill Dancer, JaQuel Knight as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Tamara Levinson as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Ron Myles as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Britney Chelene Thomas as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Christopher Toler as Drive-In Grill Dancer, Nanci Anderson as Cowboys' Dancer, Kendra Andrews as Cowboys' Dancer (as Kendra Lauren Andrews), Jeffery Scott Bailey as Cowboys' Dancer, Liana Blackburn as Cowboys' Dancer, Brent L. Boxberger as Cowboys' Dancer, Taylor Bradley as Cowboys' Dancer, Kelley Bradshaw as Cowboys' Dancer, Claire Callaway as Cowboys' Dancer, Robert Chabott as Cowboys' Dancer, C. Ryan Chandler as Cowboys' Dancer, Amanda Davisson as Cowboys' Dancer, Troy Dela Rosa as Cowboys' Dancer, Hannah Douglass as Cowboys' Dancer, Danella Dutton as Cowboys' Dancer, Aisha Francis as Cowboys' Dancer, Jonathan Fritschi as Cowboys' Dancer, Larke Hasstedt as Cowboys' Dancer, Joey Hernandez as Cowboys' Dancer, Katherine Hough as Cowboys' Dancer, Jeremy Craig Hudson as Cowboys' Dancer, Dacia James as Cowboys' Dancer, George Jones, Jr. as Cowboys' Dancer, William Ladd as Cowboys' Dancer, Meryl Lester as Cowboys' Dancer, Katherine Levy as Cowboys' Dancer, Megan Mackey as Cowboys' Dancer, Michelle Maniscalco as Cowboys' Dancer, Brian Mason as Cowboys' Dancer, Michael McDonough as Cowboys' Dancer, Dennis McKinnie as Cowboys' Dancer, Keltie Colleen Minksky as Cowboys' Dancer, Marriann Nelson as Cowboys' Dancer, Brent Ours as Cowboys' Dancer, Jamie Overla as Cowboys' Dancer, Marabeth Poole as Cowboys' Dancer, Harrison Jonathan Prater as Cowboys' Dancer, Melissa Rummels as Cowboys' Dancer, Monique Slaughter as Cowboys' Dancer, Lisa Marie Thomas as Cowboys' Dancer (as Lisa Thomas), Gissette E. Valentin as Cowboys' Dancer, Tyler Duncan Wall as Cowboys' Dancer, Quincy Lamar Willis as Cowboys' Dancer, Sharee Wise as Cowboys' Dancer, Joshua Allen as Finale Dancer, Tucker Barkley as Finale Dancer, Bianca Brewton as Finale Dancer, Whitney Brown as Finale Dancer, Bboy Kid David as Finale Dancer, Justin Michael De Vera as Finale Dancer, Michael Brandon Dizon as Finale Dancer, Laura Edwards as Finale Dancer, Christina Glur as Finale Dancer, Cory Graves as Finale Dancer, Misha Hamilton as Finale Dancer, Dayna Michelle Harris as Finale Dancer, Ivan Koumaev as Finale Dancer, Nicholas Lanzisera as Finale Dancer, Matthew Laraway as Finale Dancer, Spencer Liff as Finale Dancer, Ahrielle Mace as Finale Dancer, Candace Neolani Maxwell as Finale Dancer, Glenda Morales as Finale Dancer, Abbye Myers as Finale Dancer, Christian Owens as Finale Dancer, Kayla Jenee Radomski as Finale Dancer, Luis Rosado as Finale Dancer, Carson Marie Seeley as Finale Dancer, Dakota Scott Smith as Finale Dancer, Brittny Sugarman as Finale Dancer, Melanie Ullmann as Finale Dancer, Miguel Angel Zarate as Finale Dancer
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