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 inevidable 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, game and all, 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 (keep in mind the movie is twenty years old). 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…with the best eyes in the world). 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…or hoped to, anyway!
Video: How does it look?
This new Special (Collector’s) Edition of “Footloose” appears to have the exact same transfer as the previous DVD. And as such, Paramount’s transfers from their films in the 70’s and 80’s is fairly inconsistent. While the majority of them look fair, this looks dirty, likely from the sub-par source material. The 1.85:1 anamorphic image is still the best I’ve seen it look (for the life of me, I can’t remember how it looked in the theater in 1984), but there’s still plenty of room for improvement here. There seems to be some halos in a few of the outdoor scenes, but aside from the dinginess of the print; I found no noticeable errors. While this won’t set the world on fire with its video quality, it will look better on smaller screens as my 55″ showed more of the errors. Don’t let this stop you from buying the disc, but don’t be expecting a reference-quality video presentation, either.
Audio: How does it sound?
What is new is the soundtrack. The original Dolby Digital 5.1 track wasn’t too outstanding, but it served the purpose. Paramount has given “Footloose” a new Dolby Digital EX track. While I don’t really see the need for the rear center channel track, it does add a bit of depth. Dialogue is rich and doesn’t suffer from any distortion, and the best way to hear all of your favorite songs is like they have it here. While it’s not the best soundtrack in the world, it’s right up there and this is the way to hear it (for the boy). It is an improvement over the previous 5.1 mix, but not so much that this alone would merit a purchase. And really, how many of us have a Dolby Digital EX setup (not including myself)?
Supplements: What are the extras?
There wouldn’t be much of a point to re-issuing “Footloose” as a Special Edition if they didn’t at least expand on the supplemental materials. Seeing as how the first go ’round was lacking, anything more would be better. And so we have two audio commentaries, the first with Kevin Bacon solo as he tells of the production and shoot (and the dancing) and almost as interesting is 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. Three featurettes are also included, though it’s actually two, just cut into parts. “Footloose: A Modern Musical” is cut into two parts (labeled Parts I and Part II). This essentially covers all of the bases. Interviews with most of the cast and all involved in it. We then have “Footloose: Songs That Tell a Story” which focuses, obviously, on the music of the movie. An interview with Sammy Hagar and Kenny Loggins offers up some exciting information about the music of the film (what it’s mainly remembered for). Lastly we get the theatrical trailer. All in all, it’s a tough call if you want to upgrade to “Footloose 2.0”. The audio and video are nearly identical and if you’re not the type who listens to commentaries and watches featurettes, I see no reason to upgrade. But if you’re like me (and odds are, you’re not), having the latest greatest version of a DVD is what makes the world go around. Like “Footloose”.