Paramount // 1984 // 107 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 16th, 2002
He's a big-city kid in a small town.
They said he'd never win.
He knew he had to.
When Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon, A Few Good Men, Hollow Man) and his mother move from the bright lights of Chicago to the small town of Beaumont, they find more than they bargained for among the corn rows! You see, this town isn't a picture perfect slice of Americana -- it's a place that's outlawed anything fun! As Mr. Bill might yelp, "Oh nooooooooo!" Yes, in the evil town of Beaumont you can't dance, listen to the devil's music (rock and roll!), or read such corrupting books as "The Catcher in the Rye." Of course, Ren isn't about to let some nasty old rules stand in the way of youthful rebellion -- upon his arrival he blares music from his car and dances like a maniac (Michael Sembello, eat your heart out). This doesn't sit well with the town elders, including one Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow, Cliffhanger). Moore's son was killed years ago in a drunk driving accident, and since then he's blamed it on liquor, dancing, and cheesy '80s music -- thus the ban on anything remotely entertaining. Things really start to heat up when Ren catches the eye of Ariel (Lori Singer, Warlock), Reverend Shaw's daughter and the local looker. Her boyfriend doesn't take too kindly to Ren laying eyes on his woman, thus paving the way for the requisite fight at the end of the film, though not before Ren takes on the whole town in a bid to have a dance so all the kids can really cut Footloose!
It's been quite sometime since I've watched an '80s relic that groaned and creaked as much as the 1984 hit Footloose. Here's a movie that has aged about as well as Carol Channing on anti-botox injections -- Kevin Bacon is a Chicago kid who's just gotta dance, dammit! And not only that, but he's gotta get the whole dang town tappin' their feet as well. Sound silly? Well, it is...in the most entertaining of ways. I'm not sure what was more fun to watch: Kevin Bacon dancing alone in anger and frustration to a Moving Picture song, or John Lithgow chewing the scenery (and the film stock, and the projector...) as the town's resident hot-blooded, Bible-thumping preacher. Ah hell, they're both a hoot 'n a half. Like its female counterpart Flashdance, Footloose is a movie long on style and short on substance -- I mean, really, who ever heard of a town like Beaumont anyhow? Is it plausible to think that there's a place in the U.S. so strict that it doesn't all kids to listen to the mind corrupting music of Kenny Loggins? Now that we've established the plot is pretty hokey, you can sit back and enjoy the film for what it is: unabashed youthful fun. This is a movie where the kids show the parents that life is just one big dance set to Denise Williams' toe-tappin' "Let's Hear it for the Boy." Footloose was Kevin Bacon's breakout role, and as such becomes a footnote on the actor's career. Lori Singer basically pouts around as eye candy while such respected actors as Chris Penn (Reservoir Dogs), Sarah Jessica Parker (TV's Sex and the City), and Dianne Wiest (Little Man Tate) pop up in roles that won't be showcased on their résumés anytime soon. Footloose is probably more well known for its infectiously fun soundtrack -- that frickin' title track is destined to never leave your memory. Upon reflection, I can honestly say that my life is no better than when I sat down to watch Footloose...and it's no worse. I think that counts for something, don't you?
Footloose is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and all I can say is "uggh." This is by far one of Paramount's worst transfers in recent memory, and on such a beloved title like Footloose! There will be no dancing in the streets when fans catch a glimpse of the all the dirt, grain, and scratches littering the image. Even the colors and black levels look faded and worn. This is a disappointing transfer to say the least -- I expected a lot more, and so will fans. The soundtrack is presented in a newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround soundtrack in English. This is an only passable mix with all of the songs filtered through both the front and rear speakers (and sometimes sounding a bit canned and weird). Otherwise this isn't a 5.1 mix to write home about -- the rest of the effects and dialogue are all filtered through only the front and center channels with a minimal amount or hiss/distortion. Also included on this disc is a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround soundtrack in English, a French Stereo track, plus English and Spanish subtitles. Once again, Paramount has completely ignored a classic '80s flick when it comes to supplemental materials -- there isn't a single extra feature to be found on this disc.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* The Oracle of Bacon