Of the numerous dance flicks that have be prominent over the years,especially those of the 80’s. the original movie “Footloose”, from 1984 is the one that has struck out as the most memorable. Although it’s regarded as a “dance movie”, the primary source of the movie’s conflict revolves around the fact that the story takes place in a town where dancing and rock music have been banned. That is until a teenage newcomer shows up and challenges the status quo, especially that of an extremely conservative preacher…
Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) is the new kid in the sleepy town of Bomont, having relocated there with his recently divorced mother (Frances Lee McCain) from Chicago to live with his aunt and uncle. He learns about the dancing ban from fellow students Willard (Chris Penn) and Rusty (Sarah Jessica Parker) that came into existence several years prior due to a tragic incident involving a gang of drunken students.
Ren makes it his goal to ensure that the ban is lifted, and to stage a prom for the high school students by pleading his case in a meeting with the town council. But things get complicated when he falls for Ariel (Lori Singer), the wild, feisty daughter of self-righteous preacher, Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), who just so happens to be the main instigator behind the ban. Will Ren be able to win the girl and change Moore’s tune?
“Footloose” isn’t quite a cinematic masterpiece, what its corny plot and even cheesier dance sequences (such as a bizarre scene of Ren dancing in an abandoned warehouse to the strains of “Never” by the Moving Pictures, which was hilariously parodied in “Hot Rod”), it has many moments of charm and genuine touching moments that we can’t help but be entertained by both the movie and its uplifting message to fight for the cause that are dear to us.
Kevin Bacon is effective as Ren, playing him as a an affable, if unlikely protagonist, who is determined to do right, contrary to what Reverend Shaw believes about him. Lithgow is just as credible, as a well-meaning preacher who tries to connect with his daughter, but fails repeatedly against his own better judgement. Dianne Weist has some tender moments as Moore’s wife, Vi, who desperately acts as the mediator between her husband and daughter. Lori Singer has her moments as the preacher’s daughter who longs to roam free, and Chris Penn and a pre- “Sex and the City” Sarah Jessica Parker offer comic relief in strong supporting performances.
A remake was released in 2011. While it’s very good in it’s own right, it doesn’t have the same guilty pleasures that the original possessed, least of all, Kevin Bacon! While many might find the original’s excessive dancing scenes too much to handle, for me, it’s all part of the charm! To commemorate “Footloose”‘s 30 anniversary in March 2014, Kevin Bacon appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” to poke fun at his role in the film by partaking in a “Footloose” flash mob of sorts.
“Footloose”(1984) rates as a solid 4 out of 5 stars, as it has an inspiring message despite all the goofiness that surrounds the main story. I would recommend it to viewers who enjoy dance movies in the vein of “Step Up” or “Save the Last Dance”, or if you’re just looking for an excuse to hear the iconic title song, as well as “Let’s hear it for the Boys”, since the soundtrack is quite infectious. Let’s hear it for “Footloose”!