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Footloose

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rated: PG

Running Time: 107 minutes

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow

Written by: Dean Pitchford

Directed by: Herbert Ross

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $24.99

Features: None

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Stereo, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (13 Scenes)

Released: October 8th, 2002

 

 

Contrary to popular belief, "Footloose" really isn't that great of a movie. Is it a great guilty pleasure movie? Hell yes. Nearly twenty years later, I'm still somewhat baffled by the popularity of the film. Besides helping to establish Kevin Bacon, the film's music helped define the 1980s culturally in music and even somewhat in film. Did you even realize it was another 1980's film to become a musical on broadway? That's saying the film did make some impact upon people. Come on, you must admit that when you hear that opening song from our buddy Kenny Loggins, you just gotta dance along and sing...

"Footloose" even has a ridiculous plot, which I'm surprised no one complains about and they just go along with. We have Ren McCormick (Kevin Bacon), our incredibly deep protagonist who moves to a quiet midwestern town from the big city. But the evil Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow) has put a ban on everything fun it seems... including dancing (*gasp*)! However, Ren wants his dancing and his fun, so he becomes acquainted with some people and leads his own rebellion to bring back good times. Of course, it can be fun, it can be dramatic and it can cause controversy. What ever will happen? Will Ren's revolution succeed?

"Footloose" is a fun movie, and I respect that and I see why so many people like it. It's somewhat (emphasis on that word) to musicals of old and their characters and plotlines, so on a different level I doubt many people realize, I enjoyed that too. But come on... a lot of this movie is just bogged down in predictability and can be quite superfluous, overdoing small scenes and underscoring the nicer, key ones. The movie doesn't exactly get balanced from that, and it just tends to be more than what it really is. The film is damn corny too: in its set-up moments, in its dialogue and a lot of other places.

The dancing and music scenes are pretty entertaining, and the film actually has some nice visual flair, courtesy of director Herbert Ross and kept in constiancy from editor Paul Hirsch. The acting though definently helps the movie. Kevin Bacon is finely even, in-tune and earnest with nice build up in his performance. Dianne Wiest and finely subtle and underplays her role nicely, while John Lithgow (who I'm a giant fan of) is just great... even if he does tend to overdo it at times, but I think it's what the character calls for. I also liked Lori Singer in the movie too, and there's some great chemistry with Bacon and her.

You'll probably notice other faces in this movie... pretty well known faces (do Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Penn ring any bells?). But "Footloose" is the perfect crowd pleaser. It's not the type of movie that should be taken way too seriously, and obviously was never recognized for it's characters and story. But if the movie entertains and has such a long lasting impact, even if it's held up in a different manner than usual tradition, then what can you say to that?

 

This was my first time experiencing "Footloose" in widescreen (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen to be exact), and I was glad to be finally doing so. It's too bad though the transfer wasn't cleaned up completley, however. At times it appears a bit faded and softened out, but overall it's pretty good. There's some noise here and there, not to mention blemishes, blotches, scratches and dirt pieces that do pop up, but there is no edge enhancment. Color saturation and detail are not spectacular, but hold up fine. Fleshtones look all right and fit with the film, but I've seen better.

 

I must say, this is a pretty rockin' soundtrack! It's not reference quality or anything, but I found the 5.1 Dolby Digital remix (and thank the Lord it's remixed with all the music here) quite pleasant and perfectly fitting of the material. While there is some articicial-ness going on, there is good imaging and separation with the surround effects. The surround effects are pretty pumping with pretty good subwoofer use, and the strength of the front channels hold up nicely as well. This particuarly holds mostly for the musical elements of the film and some sound effects. While it sounds fine most of the time, the overemphasis on small things (car doors slamming, for example) just doesn't.

While I found that pretty pleasing, what's rather unfortuante is that everything else isn't in good shape. The dialogue sounds rather low and pushed down in comparison to the music, and due to that, I found the optional English Dolby Surround track more straightforward and a bit more true to its original intentions. Also included is a French stereo track and Spanish subtitles, plus English closed captions.

 

Unfortuantly, Paramount has not put a single thing here. It's disappointing because the film is damn popular. What about new interviews? Life post "Footloose"? Commentaries of sorts? Retrospective on the music? Nope, nothing.

 

"Footloose" isn't great when you strip it away, but it does work for what it is and what it's supposed to be. It's nice Paramount has released a catalog favorite on DVD, but like you'd expect, there are no supplements to help redeem the steep price value and the presentation isn't too amazing. If you're a fan you know you're going to get it, otherwise, rent it to revisit the swinging goodness.