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Director: Herbert Ross
Writer: Dean Pitchford
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Diane Wiest, Chris Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker, John Laughlin
Synopsis: Classic tale of teen rebellion and repression features a delightful combination of dance choreography and realistic and touching performances. When teenager Ren and his family move from big-city Chicago to a small town in the West, he's in for a real case of culture shock. Though he tries hard to fit in, the streetwise Ren can't quite believe he's living in a place where rock music and dancing are illegal. There is one small pleasure, however: Ariel, a troubled but lovely blonde with a jealous boyfriend. and a Bible-thumping minister, who is responsible for keeping the town dance-free. Ren and his classmates want to do away with this ordinance, especially since the senior prom is around the corner, but only Ren has the courage to initiate a battle to abolish the outmoded ban and revitalize the spirit of the repressed townspeople. Fast-paced drama is filled with such now-famous hit songs as the title track and "Let's Hear It for the Boy."
MPAA Rating: PG
Okay, time to put on your dancing shoes, as it's time to dance! That's right folks. It's a party here, and it's time to cut loose. Time to shake things up, and fight for what you believe in. Fight for the freedom of expression. Fight for your right to dance, and express yourself against the narrow minded censorship of society. "Footloose" was not only a deeply touching, yet simplistic story about rebellion against a harsh society, but it served as a great allegory about the many cons of censorship. Showing how in society that we should be allowed to express ourselves creatively, but it was also a tragic story about the concepts of love and loss. Of course, it was also a great story about how sometimes as our children get older, we have to learn to let them go at some point, while hoping that they take the lessons we taught them to heart as they venture out into the world. Sure, I'll be the first to admit that this film can be a bit over the top, and a bit campy at times, but it's definitely a well told story.
Not only was this movie surprisingly brilliant within it's own simplicity, but it was also a movie that held a lot of emotional depth about a repressed youth struggling to fit into a society that dared to censor him. I guess as one could tell, I did enjoy this film quite a bit. Not only was the story well told, but the characters were vastly complex and layered. Take Reverend Moore (John Lithgow) for instance. Sure, it probably would've been easy to have someone like John Lithgow portray the character as some sort of cartoon villain in this movie; considering how cheesy this film can get sometimes. However, he surprisingly doesn't. No, if anything, he portrays the Reverend as a deeply complex, yet sympathetic antagonist in this film. Sure, it's easy to say that he's a figurative jerk for how he openly sees Ren (Kevin Bacon) as a troublemaker, and how he needlessly censors the town of Baumont.
However, he's also a sympathetic figure because of the internal conflict that he endears from the loss of his only son, and how he feels partially responsible for it; which causes him to lead city council to ban both rock music and dancing in the first place. For you see, Reverend Moore's son dies in a fatal car accident, after getting drunk at a party one night; hence it's easy to understand his plight on why he might feel dancing and rock music were partial causes of his son's death. After all, how many parents blamed Marilyn Manson for the Columbine incident? Quite a few if you bother to look it up.
Anyway, to get back to the topic, it's easy to feel sympathetic to Reverend Moore, as he's not necessarily for censorship per say, as there is a subplot about a teacher that gets fired for having his class read a particular book that the city council isn't too fond about. However, Reverend Moore opposes city council's ruling to fire the teacher over this, as he doesn't believe it's right to censor something needlessly. But if that's the case....why does he approve the ban on rock music and dancing if he's against needless censorship? Could it be that the only reason why he's for the ban over one form of expression over the other is because he wrongfully places blame on alleged influences that he feels are justified to protect his children? If that's the case, wouldn't that make him a bit of a hypocrite? Needless to say, this little subplot not only helped brought in more of a deeper understanding of who Reverend Moore was, but it also reflected to audiences that he wasn't a bad guy. Sure, his reasons behind censoring rock music and dancing are misplaced, but you can't help but feel sympathy for his character anyway. Truly, a great sign for any film to have an antagonist this complex, and interesting.
Of course, lets not forget about Kevin Bacon in this movie. Although, I'll be the first to admit that I honestly don't consider myself a fan of his, but when given the right script, he can certainly prove to be a great actor, and this film is no exception. Not only does Kevin Bacon portray the troubled young Ren with a lot of street smart savvy and charisma, but he's also able to convey the internal conflict the character goes through when necessary. Unlike the remake that tries to over dramatize Ren's internal conflicts, the original is more simplistic and direct to the point about it. It didn't add an unnecessary subplot about the mother being dead like the remake does to make his internal plight deeper, as it didn't need it. No, with the way that Kevin Bacon is able to carry his performance, and how well written the script is, the internal struggle of Ren is still every bit as deep and complex as any character can be in a movie like this.
Another couple of great performances worth mentioning come from Diane Wiest and Lori Singer. Although Diane Wiest (Mrs. Moore) has very few lines in this movie, the few lines she does have not only add layers to Reverend Moore's internal conflicts, but it also shows the audience just how out of touch Moore is with his daughter, as his wife points it out to him. And unlike Andie Macdowell, Diane's delivery on her lines are lot more convincing and authentic rather than forced half the time like the remake. As for Lori Singer, I felt she did an excellent job portraying the perfect combination of teenage rebellion with conflicted loyalties towards her love for Ren and her father. Needless to say, I could probably go on all day about all the great performances in this movie, as all the actors played their parts rather well.
However, that's not to say that this movie isn't without it's own share of flaws. As I stated earlier, the film is a bit cheesy at times, and it's fairly predictable to boot. However, the touching story, and it's deep complex characters more than make up for it's shortcomings.
In the end, I'd have to give this movie a three out of four. Not only does it do a great job at telling a deep heartfelt story about teenage rebellion, but it certainly serves as a great allegory to the many downsides to censorship in society. Truly, a must see for anyone, as this movie will continue to be a timeless tale among the other classics.