Footloose (1984)

17 Feb

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Smith’s Verdict: **1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

1984’s “Footloose” was an attempt to follow the box-office success of “Flashdance,” released the previous year. Both movies have similar themes—they both feature a central character who just wants to dance, but has many things standing in the way. “Flashdance” had a lame, predictable story with some pretty impressive dance moves. “Footloose’s” story is just as lame and predictable, but it has a little more depth to it than “Flashdance” did. But that’s not saying much.

Kevin Bacon plays the lead. He’s Ren McCormick, the new kid living in a small town in the country. He loves to dance and have fun, but unfortunately for him, dancing is forbidden in this little town by the city council and the local minister (John Lithgow). He’s shocked that this sleepy little town isn’t allowed to dance. He lets out his anger in a typical scene borrowed from “Flashdance” in which the kid dances to a pop song by the way of a music video.

Some of the teenagers like to sneak out of town and have a little fun anyway. The minister’s beautiful daughter (Lori Singer), for example, loves to sneak her way to a fast-food joint just to dance in the parking lot. She also loves to balance with her legs on the doors of a speeding car and a speeding truck while a speeding semi bears down on her in a suicidal game of chicken. I have no idea what that scene is all about.

Some of the teenagers, like the minister’s daughter, are flashy and dazed. But some of the others are appealing, like Ren, Ren’s new friend Willard (Christopher Penn), and the daughter’s mousy friend (Sarah Jessica Parker). When the story comes to Ren now wanting to bring a school dance to the community and him having to face the city council, he also has to teach Willard how to dance. That task may prove harder than it seems.

The story of “Footloose” doesn’t make a lot of sense. The minister bans dancing and fun, and yet doesn’t seem to notice that his daughter is wearing flashy shirts and skinny jeans—you have to wonder what he’s thinking about when she arrives home dressed like that. I guess that’s just for us, right? Also, the minister doesn’t seem to know which way to go in terms of authority to the churchgoers or his family. There’s one scene in which he’s about to scold his daughter when she confesses she isn’t a virgin, but is interrupted by the churchgoers burning a book outside. He gives a speech about why they shouldn’t go along with it and I’m thinking, “Where is he going with this?” And the story with Ren doesn’t go anywhere particularly new, although the musical montage in which he teaches his friend to dance is kind of sweet in its own pop way. He also has to square against a bully and talk to the whole town about why they should be allowed to whatever. That, of course, seemed recycled and thrown in. And there’s a cornball scene in which the minister changes his personality in a scene in which he and his wife are in bed together.

I did like some of “Footloose.” Kevin Bacon does a good job of making Ren appealing and sympathetic. The character also has impressive dance moves, although I wasn’t quite sure I watching him or a stunt dancer. Christopher Penn is also good as Willard. And also, some of the music video scenes are kind of fun in their own way. But to sum it all up, “Footloose” has a lame story and some complicated characters and that keeps the whole film from being a good time.

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