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Footloose (1984)

Music is on his side

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

A fun piece of 80's fluff. You won't find great depth or reality here, but it has a good heart and, if you enjoyed other 80's standards like Say Anything and The Breakfast Club, you'll have a good time. I even took some useful life lessons from it.

Plot Synopsis
The main story focuses on a new kid, Ren (Kevin Bacon), who's just moved into a mid-west town from Chicago with his mother who just recently got divorced. He struggles to make a place for himself in this town where dancing and rock and roll have been outlawed. Most of the reason for the ban is Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), who's son died in a car accident. He blames rock and roll (and the boozing that goes with it) for his son's death. His wife, Vi (Diane Wiest) loves him, but can't help him get past his grief. His daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer), has become very self-destructive in an attempt to get her father's attention and love back. And there's also problems with the book-burning town council leader, closed-minded hicks, and other grayfaces.

Ren tries to get the law repealed, so he and the rest of the senior class can have a prom. With Ariel's help, he's fights without becoming like those he's fighting. In doing so, Ren wins the respect of many of his peers and some of other members of the community, including Reverend Moore. While the law stays, one of the town's business owners lets the seniors use his barn just outside the town limits for the dance.

While Footloose touches on a number of serious subjects, it stays light on its feet. Rather than trying to preach, it just shows how these characters handled the problems they faced. Not surprisingly, in several cases those solutions involve dancing. Imagine a musical where the characters don't sing, only dance, like a series of music videos with dialog scenes in between.

Also featured in the movie, early in both their careers, are Chris Penn as Williard (Ren's new best friend), and Sarah Jessica Parker as Rusty (Ariel's best friend - a role more stereotypically appropriate to Joan Cusack).

Oh, and that's not Kevin Bacon for most of that dance in the warehouse.

On a more personal note, during the first sermon when John Lithgow slams his hand on the pulpit, I expected him to hunch over, look around wildly, and shriek, "Laugh while you can, monkey boy!" with a bad Italian accent. Maybe it's just me.

Life Lessons


  • Willard - "We're not living in the Middle Ages. We've got TV, we've got Family Feud."
  • Reverend Shaw Moore - "If we don't ever start trusting our children, how will they ever become trustworthy."

DVD Features
This only has spoken language and subtitle choices. I know of no special edition DVD, but I'd love to see one. Can you imagine a cast commentary of Lithgow, Bacon, Penn, and Parker? I'd pay to hear that! (Update: SE was released on September 28th, but with only Bacon on the commentary. Darn.)

Directed by Herbert Ross

Written by Dean Pitchford

Cast Credits
Kevin Bacon .... Ren McCormack
Lori Singer .... Ariel Moore
John Lithgow .... Reverend Shaw Moore
Dianne Wiest .... Vi Moore
Chris Penn .... Willard Hewitt (as Christopher Penn)
Sarah Jessica Parker .... Rusty
John Laughlin .... Woody
Elizabeth Gorcey .... Wendy Jo
Frances Lee McCain .... Ethel McCormack
Jim Youngs .... Chuck Cranston
Douglas Dirkson .... Burlington Cranston
Lynne Marta .... Lulu Warnicker
Arthur Rosenberg .... Wes Warnicker
Timothy Scott .... Andy Beamis


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