Movie 1 of 1984 and 111 overall in my journey through films of my lifetime.
"I need to dance, don't you see it? And I'm going to do a dance all over your face!"
- The Jerky Boys (from memory and probably an inaccurate quote)
I'm spending little time on the rediculous premise as I'm sure many reviews have covered it to death.
The old guard vs the new wave, elder wisdom vs youthful lusts, suppression vs expression these are the subjects that are at the heart of "Footloose." They are serious subjects worthy of a serious story. "Footloose's" cringy moments don't do these topics justice.
Speaking of "cringe" can I just take a moment to say, WOW this is one cringy movie! Never in your most vulnerable moments alone, at your most immature state of being have you behaved in a way more embarrassing than the characters in this film. I'm surprised the actor's guild didn't shut this shoot down for embarrassing these actors. Kevin Bacon's first solo dance scene... I have no words! I was turning red from embarrassment watching it. I laughed myself to death at the stunt double's acrobatics I must say. YES, I'll say it now, the level of cringe is so high that it does reach the lofty peaks of being entertaining. Not for the reasons the film makers would have hoped but entertaining it was. I convered my face, I peaked between my fingers, I yelled at the screen, and I laughed and I must admit: it was a good time for all the wrong reasons.
Look at yourself in the mirror. Turn on and watch "Footloose." Look back in the mirror. You see that right there? That's someone that has a whole lot more going for them than any character in this movie. Self esteem: maximum levels! If you ever are tempted to think you have nothing to offer the world remember the characters in "Footloose," you are greater than them by incalculable measures. I'd also add that you are more human than these characters. None of them struggle with internal conflicts or contradictions. The preacher doesn't question his convictions. His daughter doesn't wonder if her dad might be right. Kevin Bacon's character is an outsider who has it all together, even his mistakes make him look good. There is a doofus who's there for juxtaposition but nothing more (to be fair he at least has a shallow arc). Despite external conflicts these are one dimensional losers that you couldn't imitate if you tried, but what's worse is that you wouldn't even want to watch them, and since this is a movie that's what you'll be expected to do. Just to further my point take "The Road Warrior" starring Mel Gibson. The post apocalyptic environment reflects his heart. He has embraced his harsh, unforgiving environment. There is an irony that the world that took his family is all he has left. When the Road Warrior meets a tribe, that's really a family, we feel a conflict. We want him to help but his nature won't allow it. He must help though doesn't he? Doesn't he feel what we feel? The look on Gibson's face at pivotal points says it all. He is stuck with his conformity to the new world and what he knows is right by helping a family that is a remnant of the old, but the old world is what he left behind because there is too much pain there. Let me tell you "Footloose" has no character with a heart as big as Gibson's unnamed character in "The Road Warrior." After years of seeing genius movies like "The Road Warrior" it's so hard to be generous to something as shallow and base as "Footloose."
Someone, I'm thinking probably the writer, thought that the most intense, most coolest thing in the world is the game of Chicken. In the first forty minutes we are treated to our third bout. I use the term "treated" loosely. It didn't take any imagination to figure out that this was what actually caused the death of the teens we hear about.
One does have to wonder if the rise and popularity of MTV was a factor in movies like this. Although I love the music "Footloose" and movies like it come off like extended music videos. If you have read any of this retrospective then it should not surprise you that I personally don't like that at all.
My favorite scene is the one that would have gotten Bacon's character laughed out of any seminary that would have a rudimentary understanding of hermeneutical principles. What am I taking about? I'm talking about the town council where we learn that when the Bible mentions dancing all dancing is valid. Of course the passages brought up were taken out of context or misinterpreted completely. Bacon's character also didn't bother looking up passages about respecting laws and authorities. What was really funny was how the preacher also didn't know about these problems. Yet I'm supposed to believe that he's such a good preacher his congregation would have to "look down on heaven to see it!" I guess this is a "Seeker Sensitive" town, just with a little attitude and a lot of ignorance. This scene is philosophically so poorly thought out that it makes defending laws against dancing easy! Guys: LAWS AGAINST DANCING is what we are talking about and the screen writers are reduced to straw man arguments and bad interpretations of holy texts?! Really?!
Finally I'll add two things to this review. First a remake of "Footloose" written and directed by John Waters could have actually been very funny. Second, if I were going to try to put lipstick on a pig and interpret (well, actually "stretch" interpretation would be more like it) this to make it sound good to an unsuspecting victim, as a prank to get them to watch it, I'd tell them this: ""Footloose" is allegory for prohibition America. It's about how authoritarian social structures can't fully suppress the human spirit. While the laws may be unjust the true justice found in the hearts of all humans is in its expression through the arts like music and especially DANCE! Like "The Dear Hunter" and it's games of life and death expressed through "Russian Roulette" so "Footloose" has its own existential manifestation in games of "Chicken." Who will live? Who will die? Who will DANCE?"
-great 80's music
-can be enjoyed ironically
-while I am not remotely entertained by dance if that's your thing there is plenty of that here and it seems to be well choreographed.
- embarrassingly corny
- very stupid story
- plainly predictable