Thursday, October 13, 2011

Original "Footloose" Still Cuts Loose

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 81 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Footloose (1984)
Running time: 107 minutes (1 hour, 47 minutes)
DIRECTOR: Herbert Ross
WRITER: Dean Pitchford
PRODUCERS: Lewis J. Rachmil and Craig Zadan
EDITOR: Paul Hirsch
Academy Award nominee

DRAMA/MUSIC with elements of romance

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Christopher Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker, John Laughlin, Elizabeth Gorcey, Frances Lee McCain, Jim Youngs, Lynne Marta, Arthur Rosenberg, and Timothy Scott

Footloose is a 1984 teen drama in which the story is driven, in part, by its pop music soundtrack. The film was a hit upon its initial release, and the soundtrack sold over nine millions copies, with two songs from the film earning Oscar nominations. Footloose spawned a 1998 Broadway musical and is the subject of a 2011 remake.

Footloose focuses on Ren MacCormack (Kevin Bacon), a teenager raised in Chicago. As the movie begins, Ren and his mother, Ethel (Frances Lee McCain), have just moved to the small Midwestern town of Bomont to live with Ethel’s sister, Lulu (Lynne Marta) and her husband, Wes Warnicker (Arthur Rosenberg). Ren soon makes a friend of a local kid, Willard Hewitt (Chris Penn), and eventually attracts the attention of a wild, but pretty teen girl, Ariel Moore (Lori Singer).

Ren, who likes to dance and play loud music, soon learns that dancing and loud music are not allowed in Bomont, mainly because of Ariel’s stern father, Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow). Ren decides that his senior class should have a prom, but he and his small circle of friends may have to take on the entire town, especially the town council, if they want to hold a dance in public.

There is a lot of cheesy synthesizer-driven music on the soundtrack and plenty of weird dance moves are on display. Still, Footloose is actually a good little teen drama. It’s like an ABC After School Special with a soundtrack, and if Dean Pitchford’s script is anything, it is sincere.

The story is rarely overwrought, and Pitchford created familiar characters without making them stereotypes. I’ve seen John Lithgow’s character, Rev. Moore, described as a “bible thumper,” and Moore is not. Even if the character were, Lithgow, an accomplished actor, would never play Shaw Moore as such. He is a complex man who means well and sincerely cares about the people of Bomont. The arc of his character is a journey to make sure that his good intentions don’t pave a road to Hell.

Kevin Bacon made a star turn as Ren in Footloose, and while the character can be a bit overexcited, Bacon makes Ren likeable and genuine. Of course, Sarah Jessica Parker sparkles, showing a hint of what her fans love about her today, and it’s good to see Chris Penn young, in shape, and nice looking – the Chris Penn before the weight, the drugs, and the tragic ending.

Footloose stands the test of time. I think it is as good today as it was 27-and-a-half years ago. I will give it the same grade I gave it back then, and I’d even watch it again. Its story of friendship and small town melodrama are more engaging than quaint.

6 of 10

1985 Academy Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Music, Original Song” (Kenny Loggins-music and Dean Pitchford-lyric for the song "Footloose") and “Best Music, Original Song” (Tom Snow and Dean Pitchford for the song "Let's Hear It for the Boy")

1985 Golden Globes: 1 nomination: “Best Original Song - Motion Picture” (Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford for the song "Footloose")

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

No comments:

Post a Comment