Footloose – Blu-ray Review

Put on your dancing shoes, that is unless it’s been banned in your small town.  Footloose boogies onto Blu-ray with some nice new special features, but an uneven transfer.  The film that made Kevin Bacon some bacon is still fun, but also features a thoughtful performance from a supporting member. 

The Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow) is in the pulpit Sunday preaching against the evils of a sinful life with his wife Vi (Dianne Wiest) sitting approvingly in the choir.  One of his new parishioners is Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) who is not a local but moved there with his mom (Frances Lee McCain) from the big city of Chicago. 

The town doesn’t take kindly to his big city ways.  However, he catches the eye of Ariel (Lori Singer), the minister’s less-than-saintly daughter.  The attention rubs her boyfriend Chuck (Jim Youngs) the wrong way.  Ren also makes the acquaintance of Willard (Chris Penn), a loveable lunk who doesn’t know how to dance, and his girlfriend Rusty (Sarah Jessica Parker) who is also friends with Ariel. 

Dancing is banned in the small town by the town council since some youths returning from one died in a car wreck five years ago.  This ban rubs Ren the wrong way and he sets about to reverse the ban and stage a dance.  This makes him the town and Reverend’s worst enemy. 

The conventional wisdom is that the film brings home the Bacon and it certainly made the young actor a star.  I suppose it also generated a big hit in the soundtrack department as well.  However, I’ve always been impressed with John Lithgow’s thoughtful performance at the film’s villain.

I use the term loosely since Lithgow could’ve played with more bible thumping and vitriol which would’ve made you hate him.  Instead, or at least me, we’re presented with a guy trying to do good, in his own way, for his parishioners.  He even recognizes when some of them take their fervor too far and start burning books.  A memorable turn by both he and Wiest.  Even Bacon adds some character to Ren since he doesn’t actively hate the Reverend for his opposition. 

He thinks the ban is repressive, but doesn’t think the banner is an arch villain.  Hate the sin and not the sinner?  It’s an interesting dichotomy to be found in a “teen” movie.  Not that you have to recognize it as there’s still plenty of angst and drama to be spread around and maybe even bits that don’t date well or seem forced. 

I guess we’ll see how things are handled by modern hands as a remake has prompted the release of the film.  At least they’ve added special features to the mix for fans; the transfer may be another story depending on your tolerance. 

Footloose is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (1.85:1).  It’s a problematic one.  For several scenes it will look great and have improved definition and then we cut to a shot of the scenery and the trees are a blurry mess and look like a swipe of green instead of being defined as trees.  Maybe it’s always been like that and the original shooting, but it’s jarring.

Special features are high definition unless noted and a nice addition.  First up are two commentaries: one from producer Craig Zadan and writer Dean Pitchford and another from star Bacon.  Next is the 12 minute “Let’s Dance” which interviews Bacon, the 7 minute “From Bomont to Big Apple” which interview Sarah Jessica Parker, the 6 minute “Remembering Willard” with Bacon and Parker recalling the late Penn (who also appears in a 2002 interview), the 4 minute Bacon screen test, a 3 minute Bacon costume montage, and the 90 second theatrical trailer. 

Coming over from the DVD (and in standard definition) is the two part 30 minute making of “Footloose: A Modern Musical” and the 14 minute “Songs that Tell a Story” about the film’s hit music.

Problematic transfer aside (your mileage may vary); Footloose has lots of good things to recommend it in the performances of its cast, especially Bacon and Lithgow.  There are some age marks (fashion, dance moves, hackneyed plot devices) but it still has the power to make you dance. 

Visit the DVD database for more information.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.

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