Plot: What’s it about?
For many people, myself namely included, “Footloose” holds a place as one of the defining movies of the 80’s. Sure, my generation may end in “X” and I hear there’s even a “Y” out there now, thus denoting the inevitable aging process; but I digress. “Footloose”, like so many John Hughes films, wasn’t only something that we watched at the movie theaters, but the songs were so overplayed (at a then “new” MTV) that it’s impossible not to hear any one of them without thinking of Kevin Bacon’s then ever so popular “spike” haircut. I can vaguely remember my mother taking my younger brother and I to the movie saying that it was supposed to be really good and that Kevin Bacon would be a really big star after it. Well, she was right (though upon further review, I suspect she read that in an article…not to take anything away from dear old Mom) and it did bring Kevin Bacon into the mainstream. Still, I prefer him in “Animal House”, but that’s for another time and place.
We meet Ren MacCormack (Kevin Bacon) as he has just moved to the middle of nowhere. Actually it’s Beaumont and it’s the typical town that you might find in the South some 60 years ago. Music and dancing have been outlawed from the town and the kids, though they hate it, go along with it. Ren, though, being the new kid from Chicago, has no trouble blaring Heavy Metal from his yellow VW bug and it’s not too long that he’s stopped by the local law enforcement and given a good talking to. He becomes infatuated with the minister’s (John Lithgow) daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer). Ariel is the typical “minister’s daughter”, rebellious and will essentially do anything and everything to make a statement. Ren, it seems, it just the catalyst that she needs to do this. As Ren’s infectious behavior starts to spread, they want to organize a dance. Ren’s buddy, Willard (Chris Penn) adds a bit of comic relief to the plot as well.
The story is more of a teen angst for the early 80’s (that John Hughes later covered…over and over), but it has some great dance scenes and if you’re into that sort of thing, an unforgettable gymnastics routine by Bacon. I myself skipped that scene! Look for a then very young Sarah Jessica Parker in one of her first roles. While “Footloose” might not have set the world on fire, it was very popular at the time. Footloose is more of a benchmark for 80’s corniness; but it did Kevin Bacon a good start and added a whole new depth and dimension for the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game (that even he’s capitalizing on now). Suspend your disbelief for 107 minutes and you might just find yourself singing songs that you thought you’d forget.
Video: How’s it look?
I think the last time I watched this movie was when the Blu-ray came out. That transfer left a lot to the imagination and now, over a decade later, we’ve got a new 4K image. The improved contrast is also noticeable as are black levels. It’s not all sunshine, though, as there are still several scenes that seem a bit on the spotty side with some grain, movement in the background and a bit of inconsistencies in the more dimly-lit scenes. The ending dance is a good example of this as it’s very poorly lit and we see abundant grain. Still, on the whole, it’s a much better image than we’ve had previously. I’ll take it.
Audio: How’s it sound?
There are some movies that don’t need to rely on a good soundtrack and some that do. While “Footloose” doesn’t rely on a soundtrack, it does contain one. It was one of the best-selling soundtracks of the 80’s and nowhere does it sound as good as on this Blu-ray. The DTS HD Master Audio mix is very strong, while not being so artificially-sounding that it’s a turn off. Dialogue is very rich and full and while most of the action takes place in the front stage, the surround channels do add some depth. For a movie that really emphasizes audio, Paramount has hit the mark here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – Kevin Bacon goes solo as he tells of the production and shoot (and the dancing) and everything in between.
- Audio Commentary – The second track with Producer Craig Zadan and Writer Dean Pitchford. They talk mainly of how to translate the story to screen, the money the movie (and soundtrack made) and so on.
- Let’s Dance! Kevin Bacon on Footloose – If you listened to Bacon’s commentary track, a lot of this is redundant. But if you’re more visual then this might be for you.
- From Bomont to the Big Apple: An Interview with Sarah Jessica Parker – Sex and the City fans rejoice! It’s more of SJP. Yay!
- Remembering Willard – A look back at Chris Penn, who played Willard (and later Nice Guy Eddie in Reservoir Dogs).
- Kevin Bacon’s Screen Test – Pretty much that.
- Footloose: A Modern Musical – Part 1 – I still have no idea why this was divided into two sections, but each looks at various production aspects of the film, along with choreography, casting and everything in between.
- Footloose: A Modern Musical – Part 2 – Essentially, same as above.
- Kevin Bacon Costume Montage – Again, just that. If you want to see Bacon in full 80’s mode, look no further.
- Footloose: Songs That Tell A Story – We take a look at the film’s soundtrack, which ended up being more popular than the film itself.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
Footloose put Kevin Bacon on the map, to be sure. After smaller roles in cult classics like National Lampoon’s Animal House and Friday the 13th, Bacon finally made a name for himself. While the movie is a bit forgettable, it’s certainly a staple of any 80’s movie and a great soundtrack to boot. Paramount’s new 4K offering improves picture quality, but we get the same audio track as well as the same supplements we’ve had for quite some time.