Footloose (1984)

The music is on his side.

When teenager Ren and his family move from big-city Chicago to a small town in the West, he's in for a real case of culture shock.

"A time to mourn and a time to dance" - Ecclesiastes 3:4
RELEASED IN 1984 and directed by Herbert Ross, “Footloose” chronicles events in the small Western town of Bomont where dancing and loud music have been outlawed because of an accident that killed some kids years earlier. Preacher’s daughter Ariel (Lori Singer) rebels against the legalistic measures while taking liking to a new student from Chicago, Ren (Kevin Bacon), whom her father (John Lithgow) disapproves of because he perceives Ren as a “troublemaker” who wants to change the town laws against dancing.
Also on hand are Chris Penn as Ren's “country boy” pal, Willard, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Ariel's friend, Rusty. Penn's character is real fun and Sarah was a real cutie back in '84.
I stayed away from this film because of Roger Ebert's scathing review and the fact that I thought the story was about some big city fop moving to a small town and dancing on the tables of the local high school, etc. I was wrong (and so was Ebert). The protagonist, Ren, is no dandy; in fact, he can kick some arse if necessary. And you never see him dancing through the halls of the high school or whatever. He’s a professional-class gymnast and his dynamic solo work-out at the factory is simply a matter of blowing off steam, which is a form of healthy venting.
Although I stayed away from "Footloose,” the film acquired a respectable following and this inspired me to finally view it. I now understand why it's so popular. "Footloose" has that cinematic magic that pulls you in and gives you a good time. This is just a really entertaining movie with an exceptional soundtrack of songs made for the move with no less than six top 40 hits, like the title track by Kenny Loggins and “Holding Out for a Hero” performed by Bonnie Tyler, plus a couple of other significant ditties, e.g. “Bang Your Head” by Quiet Riot.
Surprisingly, “Footloose” also has depth and is actually moving. We understand Rev. Shaw Moore's grief, but his rigid law-ism isn't doing his people or town any good. I like how Shaw isn't made out to be the clichéd villain. This is a good man thinking he's doing the right thing for his town, and in many ways he is, but the legalistic spirit he cops is sapping the life out of him, his family, his congregants and his town. Does he have the wisdom to see his error and re-route?
BOTTOM LINE: Footloose is easily the best of the Big Three 80's dance movies and actually made significantly more at the domestic box office than “Dirty Dancing” ($80 million compared to $65 million). It has heart, a great cast, a superb soundtrack, all-around entertainment and real-life mindfood. It's also based on a true story that occurred in Elmore City, Oklahoma. Actually, there were similar towns with the same laws throughout America (and maybe still are).
THE FILM RUNS 1 hour, 47 minutes and was shot in areas 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City, on the eastern side of Utah Lake. WRITER: Dean Pitchford.
GRADE: A

Paramount, IndieProd Company Productions, Phoenix Pictures by Herbert Ross, Dean Pitchford.
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest.

Genres: Drama, Music, Romance

Keywords: dancing dancer dance music dance teacher father daughter relationship

02/17/1984

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