Footloose

  • Title:  Footloose
  • Director:  Herbert Ross
  • Date:  1984
  • Studio:  Paramount
  • Genre:  Musical, Drama, Romance
  • Cast:  Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest, Christopher Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Format:  Color, Widescreen
  • DVD Format:  R1, NTSC

“Well, boy, a lot of folks are going to give you problems, right off, because, you see, you’re an outsider.  You’re dangerous.  They’re going to worry about you.”  Foreman at the plant where Ren works

“There was a time for this law, but not anymore.  This is our time to dance.  This is our way of celebrating life.  That’s the way it was in the beginning.  That’s the way it’s always been.  That’s the way it should be now.”  Ren McCormick

Ren and his mother Ethel, arrive in the small town of Beaumont, Utah, after being abandoned by his father/her husband.  Almost immediately, Ren has trouble fitting in, really through no fault of his own. The townspeople, especially fellow student, Chuck, and his own uncle seem determined to ostracize him from having any social life in the town.  Ren makes a few friends — Willard, and his girl, Rusty.  He also, eventually becomes friends with Ariel, the preacher’s daughter.  Ren longs to dance to work out his troubles, but the small town of Beaumont has outlawed dancing.  About halfway through the film, Ren discovers why — several teenagers were killed after going to the next town to party in a drunken car accident on the one lane bridge back into town.  One of the teenagers was Ariel’s brother.

Ren is now more sympathetic, but he still wants to have a senior dance, a prom.  He gets most of the high school class together and pleads his case at the town council meeting.  Ren even quotes the Bible to make his point about dancing being a celebration of life.  But the council is stacked against him.  Almost immediately after the council meeting, several of the more conservative adults in town head over to the town library and begin burning “inappropriate” books.  This time the preacher intervenes, aghast at what’s happened.  At his next Sunday sermon, he gives his permission for the dance to be held at a warehouse just outside of town.

Footloose is a film filled with teenaged rebellion in the metaphor of dance.  It’s Ren’s story, perfectly played by Kevin Bacon, but by the end of the film we understand everyone’s point of view, even the preacher’s (perfectly played by John Lithgow).  Well, except maybe Chuck, Ariel’s former boyfriend the lout who beats her up when she officially breaks up with him to go out with Ren.  The preacher’s really just an over-protective father, partially destroyed by the loss of his son.  Ariel’s has a bit of a death wish — both because of what happened to her brother, and possibly as a rebellion against her father.  Willard and Rusty are normal teenagers who are being denied a normal teenaged experience by the Draconian rules of the town.  Ariel’s mother, Vi, is silent and dutiful (she even dresses like a Quaker), but eventually is so fed-up with her husband pushing the family apart that she challenges him.

Classic dances include Ren going to the deserted factory where he works, and dancing by himself to “Never”, in powerful moves full of gymnastics.  Ren had also tried out for the gymnastic team, but was cut for pure malice.  Ren teaching Willard to dance to “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” is classic.  And the first and finale/reprise of  “Footloose” are both excellent.  Plus the movie gives us, Ren and Chuck challenging each other to a game of chicken in tractors, to the music of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero”.  Overall, it’s a modern, yet 80s, musical.  Heavy on plot, music integrated fairly well into the plot, but, the dances are not full-frame and contain a lot of cuts, edits, cutaways, and close-ups, with no flow.

Musical Numbers / Songs

  • Footloose — Kenny Loggins
  • The Girl Gets Around — Sammy Hagar
  • Dancing in the Streets — Shalamar
  • Holding Out For a Hero — Bonnie Tyler
  • Never — Moving Pictures
  • Somebody’s Eyes — Karla Bonoff
  • Let’s Hear It For the Boy — Deniece Williams
  • I’m Free (Heaven Help the Man) — Kenny Loggins
  • Almost Paradise (Love Theme from Footloose) — Mike Reno & Ann Wilson

Recommendation:  See it.  I especially recommend this film for teenagers.
Rating:  3.5 out of  5 Stars
Next Film:  Frankenstein (1931)

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