There are certain movies that are pointless and just simply bad. They have a ridiculous plot, horrible characters, an unbearable soundtrack, and are without any redeemable qualities, yet there remains something unexplainably appealing about it. Every time it’s on television, you end up sitting in front of the television watching it. You know it’s stupid and if someone were to ask, you’d certainly say that the film was awful, but yet you still watch through its entirety. It isn’t until you find that DVD in the bargain bin of Wal-Mart selling for $5.00, that you come to terms with the fact that you actually enjoy it and thus add it to the embarrassing collection of guilty pleasures.
The original Footloose is definitely on that list for me. The film follows Ren (Kevin Bacon) a teenager from Chicago who moves to a small Midwestern town with his mother Ethel (Francis Lee McCain). Ren likes rock-n-roll music from the very controversial artist Kenny Loggins and dancing. Unfortunately, for Ren those things are banned. They weren’t always. No. It was a horrible accident involving drinking, drugs and the death of the Reverend Shaw Moore’s (John Lithgow) son.
As Ren fights the good fight to legalize music and dancing, he slowly falls for Rev. Moore’s daughter Ariel (Lori Singer) who by all accounts is a bad girl. She breaks up with her brutish boyfriend Chuck (Jim Youngs) and pulls dangerous stunts like standing on the windowsill of two car windows and then leaps from her girlfriend’s car to her boyfriend’s just as she was about to be hit by an oncoming car. She’s reckless and carefree though still afraid to stand up to her father.
Ren soon woos Ariel away from Chuck and begins recruiting friends who want to organize a prom. Willard (Chris Penn) jumps aboard though hasn’t a clue of how to dance. Ren happily teaches his new friend a few moves in one of the greatest and worst scenes of the movie. It’s that rare ‘so bad it’s good’ category. Most of the movie fits into that category.
In the most dramatic scene of the movie Ren takes on city council and Reverend Moore by using the bible’s stance on dancing against them.
Surprisingly, this movie is based on a true story. In a small Oklahoma town named Elmore City, dancing had been outlawed for nearly 100 years and since the formation of the town. In 1978, some teenagers petitioned to put a prom on, and though they were against heavy opposition including a reverend, they won, and the ban on dancing was officially lifted.
As for “Footloose” it is a fun movie though the reasons are unclear. Without question, John Lithgow and Dianne West who portrays his wife do extremely well. They have great chemistry and their scenes though few and far between are some of the best the movie offers. Those scenes are actually really good opposed to the rest of the film which is just MST3K (“Mystery Science Theatre 3000” for the non-geeks out there) good.
Overall “Footloose” is a strange phenomenon. Then again, the 80s were a strange phenomenon which “Footloose” captures quite well. Everything from the retort “jump back” meaning ‘no way’ to the well-known Bacon dance sequence screams 80s, and in an odd way it’s refreshing. There was no significance to the movie. There was little philosophy offered and no insight gained. In the end, it’s simply a way to waste an hour and thirty minutes. You’ll be smiling…you just won’t know why.
Rating: 6.5/10 Ring in the 4th with the Right to Dance Your Ass Off