Directed by Herbert Ross
Starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Chris Penn and Sarah Jessica Parker
“Kick off your Sunday shoes!”
So there are these teenagers in an isolated rural town in middle America. They go to school and they go to church. They drink on the sly, smoke dope, have part time jobs at the local flour mill, drive their cars too fast, and play “chicken” with tractors. But they’re not allowed to listen to rock ’n’ roll, and they’re not allowed to dance. Seems the town elders believe that rock ’n’ roll music leads to the moral corruption of the youth. Enter our hero, Ren MacCormack (played by a very young Kevin Bacon), newly arrived from the big city of Chicago, who makes it his mission to bring music and dancing, in the form of a senior prom, to the town. He’s going to make some enemies, win over some friends, challenge some authority and get the girl along the way. Luckily this movie isn’t relying solely on this cute but predictable storyline. This movie is all about the dancing.
Remember the scene with Kevin Bacon dancing out his frustration at being labeled the trouble-making-new-kid-in-town in the empty warehouse? The way he dances around the hood of his beaten up VW beetle, drinks that bottle of beer and smokes that cigarette, perfectly capturing teenage angst.
Remember where he teaches his hick farm boy friend Willard (Chris Penn) to dance? It’s a classic 80s scene, especially the shots of the feet tapping and grooving through the sports field seating.
How about the final party scene at the prom, everybody “cutting loose” on the dance floor, busting out their best moves in the dance floor circle?
While the dancing is the star of this movie, music and fashion give sparkling supporting performances. The soundtrack is one cheesy 80s mainstream feast with a lot of recognisable tracks, most notably “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins and “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” by Deniece Williams, which both reached No1 in the US and received Oscar nominations for Best Music (Original Song). The soundtrack mixes 80s rock songs like “Holding Out for a Hero” (Bonnie Tyler) with some more R’n’B sounding stuff like “Dancing in the Sheets” (Shalimar) and when it went No 1. on the Billboard charts, it knocked off Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Kevin Bacon struts his stuff in a skinny tie, gelled hair and pushed back sleeves. The girls have big hair and little denim shorts, the boys are in cowboy boots, jeans and hats. The 80s style coloured tuxedos and prom dresses in the final scene are priceless.
One of the favourites at slumber parties when I was growing up, “Footloose” is still fun and sexy in a teen kinda way. If you remember it fondly, it won’t disappoint, and if you’re just looking to “cut footloose” then let these dancing teens convince you that dancing is the answer to everything.