Paramount // 1984 // 107 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // September 28th, 2011
The music is on his side.
Footloose is currently receiving the remake treatment a lot of iconic '80s films are undergoing, so we get the obligatory original release on Blu-ray to capitalize on the new film in theaters. Normally these things are just re-releases of the previous DVD upticked in high definition. Luckily, this one possesses an amped up transfer and some new bonus features to shower a little love and understanding on the 1984 classic. We're gonna turn it loose...Footloose!
Kevin Bacon (Mystic River) plays Ren McCormack, a Chicago hipster unlucky enough to move to a small town for his senior year of high school. He makes an easy friend in Willard (Chris Penn, Reservoir Dogs) who explains that dancing and rock music are forbidden in Bomont because of an infamous car accident that took the lives of several teens. Soon Ren catches the eye of Ariel (Lori Singer, Warlock), whose a sanctimonious father (John Lithgow, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) spearheads the war on pop and bop. But with the senior prom on the way, Ren wants to show everybody how to have a good time. Can he unleash the music and free the town?
Footloose was simply Paramount's way to churn out another big hit like Flashdance, but this time enrapturing an audience of kids rather than women. It's a formula piece that never should have worked, but a talented group of people and some killer songs saved the day. Capturing one of those iconic moments in popular culture, the movie made Kevin Bacon a star and launched a hit record. The Blu-ray bills it as "the film that defined a generation." That may be a stretch, but it was certainly something that made an entire generation dance around like gymnastic idiots.
The film may be Kevin Bacon's party, but it also featured a very young Sarah Jessica Parker long before her stint in Sex and the City. It's pure escapist fun where music can change a life and a kid gets to rebel against a whole town and come out on top. Footloose is every teenage dream made flesh, and that's why it works so well even three decades later.
The Blu-ray is pretty neat stuff. Kevin Bacon, who's quite candid and fun to listen to, is brought back to reminisce about what it was like to film Footloose. Sarah Jessica Parker also gets a chance to share her thoughts about the project. They both do a nice job remembering the late Chris Penn in a new featurette called "Remembering Willard" which features some 2002 archival footage of Penn himself. We also get Kevin's original screen test and wardrobe tests, with his commentary and the soundtrack playing under it. Everything from the 2004 DVD release is here as well, including two commentaries, a two part documentary, a look at the soundtrack, and the original theatrical trailer. This is truly a nice upgrade, especially for Paramount who normally could care less about their catalog titles.
One caveat: fans might find the 1.85:1/1080p visuals disappointing. Clarity and detail may be boosted quite a bit, but there is plenty of evidence of picture enhancement and noise reduction which can prove distracting even to the untrained eye. Colors can be natural, but often look on the drab side without much pop to them. It's not a great transfer, plagued with problems that could ruin an otherwise nice package.
The DTS-HD 6.1 Master Audio fares a bit better. Dialogue is clear and there are some nice directional touches, though I found the whole experience somewhat flat and lacking. Some of the musical numbers come across as tinny, but they're operating inside a nice rich sound which gives them a little more depth than we've previously heard. Overall, it's a nice presentation, but does reveal how thin some of the production values were back in the '80s.
Fans simply looking for a high def version of their iconic classic will find this package just right. The only downside is that the image is a bit flat and digital noise is pretty high, which makes the overall visual presentation baffling. But the film is so much fun, I don't think many people will care. If you want to ditch those blues and put on your dancing shoes, Footloose is still the ticket.
Guilty of making me want to dance.
Review content copyright © 2011 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 6.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Screen Test