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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Retro Review: Footloose (1984)

Cast: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker
Genre: Musical Drama 
US Box Office Gross: $80 million 

Plot: Moving on from Chicago, newcomer Ren McCormack is in shock when he discovers the small Midwestern town he now calls home, has made dancing and rock music illegal. As he struggles to fit in, Ren faces an uphill battle to change things. With the help of his new friend, Willard and defiant teen, Ariel, he might loosen up this conservative town. But Ariel's influential father, Reverend Shaw Moore stands in his way

'The Dancing, Title Song, Choreography & Bacon's Performance Are What Makes Footloose Memorable As A 80s' Phenomenon' 

From the ever-popular catchy Kenny Loggin self-titled track, Footloose and openings credits with images of people's footwear dancing to the tune itself, stars a young Kevin Bacon, in his career breakout role, as Ren - a teenager hailing from Chicago who relocates to a small town in the Midwest with his mother, where dancing and rock'n'roll music is outlawed. Ren is determined to do something about this and to bring dance back to the community, with the help of his friend and the preacher's daughter. 

In watching this movie, during the first 30 mins of Footloose not much is happening and the story is a little on the dull side. It does take a while to get settled in, but once they start dancing, it becomes more fun to watch. Footloose is one of those 1980s dance-based movies where for a movie of its genre, it gets almost - though not quite everything right. & I say almost. And with every great dance movie- from Grease, Saturday Night Fever comes a great soundtrack (as well as Footloose, there is Let's Hear It For The Boy by Denice Williams and Hurts So Good by John Cougar Mellencamp) and Footloose has that as well. Footloose is a film that screams the '80s, in the same way, that Grease and Saturday Night Fever did in the 1970s through John Travolta. & with the latter, defining the days of the disco era. 

Lynn Taylor-Corbett was the choreographer for this film, and I'm sure her efforts have duly paid off, as we see Kevin Bacon strut his funky stuff and the best and most memorable moments are when he dances. And the way he does so, he goes about it in a charismatic way and with such devotion and enthusiasm. Looking back on his performance in Footloose and how far he has evolved as an actor and performer to this day, one could never imagine he could dance, and boy does he have some great moves! The dancing, dialogue and acting feel raw, rather than organic and the way the actors and the film go about it, it doesn't make Footloose feel gimmicky or too showy. Arguably, the choreography in this film was a lot easier to follow than in Flashdance, but that is for another time. 

The film also features notable performances by Chris Penn, John Lithgow and Sarah Jessica Parker, as well as Lori Singer - pre-Fame days; she plays the opposite of her TV character here as the reverend's daughter who falls for Ren. Following on The World According to Garp, it's interesting to see Lithgow play it straight in his role as a strict reverent: something that he has been renowned for in doing, up until his TV stint on the '90s sitcom, Third Rock From The Sun.

Much to its credit, Footloose focuses much more on the story and the characters and giving it some dramatic and emotional depth..... the problem, however, is that the story, in some parts, was very stale, & weren't very entertaining and interesting. And because of that, it made me lose interest during certain parts of the movie. What saves this film from being dreary and boring however is the music, Kevin Bacon's performance and the dance scenes. Not only are they the most entertaining parts of the movie, by far, but they are the main reasons we tune into Footloose

There is an underlying story about being a young person in the 1980s and how dance and music are used as a power of good, as well as a means of self-expression, rather than for it to be denounced as a bad thing. As Bacon's character McCormack states towards the end, ''this our time to dance. this is our way of celebrating life''. Dance is a celebration of life, as well as happiness. And whilst the rest of the story isn't anything that memorable, this particular notion on dance celebrating life is what gives Footloose its due, as a movie that is partly about dance. 

Final Verdict: 

So what is my take on Footloose? It has some interesting moments, the dance scenes especially and they are what make this movie watchable more so than for the story and the plot. The religious sentiments weren't that much of a deal to me, as I just let them go over my head. But the acting was good, though Kevin Bacon was terrific, as was the soundtrack itself.

But Footloose's story should've been a whole lot more interesting and entertaining, and so it just didn't blow me away as much and I'd thought it would do. 

Footloose is worth seeing and perhaps getting for Kevin Bacon's performance, the music and the choreography alone. 


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