The first time I ever saw Footloose I was 15 years old in the year 2011. I wanted to see the original before the (horrendous and pointless) remake and my mom recorded it on TV. I knew it was from the 80s and after watching for the first time, the only thing I took away from it was the music. I honestly saw everything about it besides the music, as I always have preferred 80s music, as extremely dated.
Fast forward a couple years later and I watched it, it turns out the movie is dated but dated in the most fun ways possible: the fashion is 80s fun, the atmosphere and set design is cheesy, but its 80s cheese, the best cheese, and most of all the film just captures the essence of being a teen in the 1980s. We may not have the REAL MTV anymore, but there will always be Footloose!
It all starts when Chicago teen Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), moves in with his Aunt and Uncle to Bomont, a small Utah town that bans dancing. The townsfolk see nothing but trouble in him as he is a teen who escapes reality with dancing, music, and gymnastics. He soon meets his match in Ariel Moore (Lori Singer) the rebellious daughter of a town preacher who’s brother’s death set the rules in motion. Ariel is a girl who lives for adventure and won’t be held back by town rules or her father Shaw Moore (John Lithgow). Rounding out the cast is Sarah Jessica Parker as Ariel’s bestie Rusty, Chris Penn as the lovable Willard, and Dianne Wiest as Ariel’s quiet but understanding Mother. It’s full speed ahead when Ren and Ariel challenge the status quo (and her Father!) to bring back dancing proving it’s an essential and natural part of life!
What makes Footloose a stand out is that it’s a musical, but not a musical and that is a key element of what makes this movie so memorable and timeless. You can’t listen to the song “Footloose” without seeing the opening and/or closing scene of the movie in the your head. I hear Moving Pictures “Never” and all I picture is Kevin Bacon dancing in an empty warehouse.
One of my very favorite scenes is Ren teaching Williard to dance with the “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” montage. It’s funny and sweet all at the same time. Ren with the boombox, Willard so desperately trying to be successful, it’s extremely heartfelt! Makes me wanna get up and dance with Willard!
A parallel I really adore between Ren and Ariel proving they are really meant for each other is their sense of danger. Although dared, Ren partakes in a game of tractor chicken in an epic showdown set against Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding out for a Hero”. Contrast that with Ariel riding between windows of moving cars on the freeway while “The Girl Gets Around” jams in the background, and you’ve seriously got one fearless couple!
Overall, “Footloose” is one of those films that is a great escapist film. It’s not fantasy, per-say, yet it allows us to go back, or in my case, get a glimpse of 1980s life. Who doesn’t want to incorporate amusing 80s songs into their everyday life!!! It’s just a feel good film, and there’s nothing wrong with that!!
This entry is for Movie Rob’s September Genre Grandeur of 80s teen films! be sure to check out the rest!!