Footloose (1984)
Review by Dindrane

Written by Dean Pitchford
Directed by Herbert Ross
Starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest, and John Lithgow, Chris Penn, and Sarah Jessica Parker

Rated: PG

Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Buy it, but grumble a bit.

Ren MacCormack (Bacon) moves to a small, nameless Midwest town and learns to his horror that the preacher, Reverend Moore (Lithgow), has had music and dancing banned. It seems that the preacherís oldest daughter was killed after a night of wild partying, and Moore believes that dancing is to blame. When Ren falls for the preacherís younger daughter, Ariel (Singer), and the school wants to hold a dance, itís Ren vs. the Reverend and the town, with freedom and self-expression at stake.

The acting is much better than the film gets credit for. John Lithgow is particularly stunning as the bigoted small-town preacher, but Kevin Bacon in his break-out role does a great job of balancing rebel with revolutionary. He makes what could be a thankless and lackluster role into something special and sympathetic. It is also worth noting in these days of school violence and mob movies that Baconís character Ren made his changes without violence--in fact, in the face of violence. Ren might not be a typical role model, yet I feel that he has something valuable to say in a society taken over with a new brand of repression and a lack of American values like freedom, constructive dissention, and individuality.

The features are non-existent, which is truly inexplicable. A movie that had the impact that this one did and was as popular as this one was should have, on anything but a budget release, at least some features. A commentary with Lithgow and/or Bacon (at the very least among the cast members) would have been nice, as would a bundled soundtrack, interviews with the stars, or even a retrospective as the film approaches twenty years of age.

Another problem with this disc is that relatively poor video quality. The film has a washed-out and yellowed look to it, as if it has not been digitally remastered--and if has not been restored, then viewers will wonder why not. The sound is decent enough, and given the popularity of this filmís score, that is as it should be, but only just. A better transfer of the filmís video and audio would have been more in keeping with this filmís popularity and importance in 1980s film history.

In short, if you are a child of the 1980s, you will want to have this film for old timeís sake. The soundtrack alone will truly take you back to those heady early 80s days of big hair and satin shirts. Footloose is more than harmless fun, though it is that. It isnít about music. It isnít about dancing. Itís about doing whatís right. It has a message, and a timely one at that, about fighting for what you believe to be right and doing it without hurting anyone. Perhaps Thomas Jefferson was right, and once every generation, people should be reminded of the value of civil disobedience.

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