I love musicals and movies about dance, but I have to admit I put off watching this one for a couple of reasons: first, I dislike ’80’s movies in general, and second, the story as I understood it was about a town that has outlawed dancing and the city kid who comes to show them the error of their ways, and that just sounded corny and dumb.
It actually plays surprisingly well, though, despite that being 100% exactly the story. I knew the title song already (I’ve avoided a lot of ’80s culture, but some things are unavoidable), and liked it, and the opening titles with just closeups of feet dancing actually already had me on the movie’s side. I do get a little irritated by the narrow-minded depiction of conservative Christians as, well, narrow-minded.
Lots of stereotypes here, of the super-pious pastor who outlaws dance pharisee-style to protect against more intimate relations, of the pastor’s daughter who’s going wild under her dad’s nose, of the rural kids who get their fun by playing chicken with tractors, of the city kid who’s gotta “save” the backwoods folks from their own ignorance, etc. But the film does try to complicate them sometimes, as when the pastor’s wife reminds him of their own youth, and when he does realize later in the film that maybe he went too far.
I think the moment where I really let myself into the movie, though, is when Kevin Bacon is frustrated with everything, takes his car out to a deserted warehouse and ANGER DANCES, complete with flashbacks to all the stuff that made him mad. It’s sublimely ridiculous and I can imagine the film loses some people at that spot, but it got me there.
Not a lot more to say – fun movie that won me over with catchy tunes, pretty decent dancing for the ’80s, characters that I somehow ended up interested in despite being fairly one-note, and just generally being entertaining.
Stats and stuff…
directed by Herbert Ross, written by Dean Pitchford
starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Chris Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker
I’m ranking all my Challenge films on Flickchart (as I do all the films I see), a movie-ranking website that asks you to choose your favorite between two movies until it builds a ranked list of your favorites. Just for fun, I will average out the rankings and keep a running tally of whose recommendations rank the highest. When you add a film to Flickchart, it pits it against films already on your chart to see where it should fall. Here’s how Footloose entered my chart:
Footloose > The Good Shepherd
Footloose < The Machinist
Footloose > The Three Caballeros
Footloose > The Kid Brother
Footloose > Paris, Texas
Footloose < Taking Off
Footloose < House by the River
Footloose < Love’s Labour’s Lost
Footloose < Love Finds Andy Hardy
Footloose < A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop
Footloose > Criss Cross
Footloose > The Tom and Jerry Cartoon Kit
Final #1048 out of 3739 (72%)
It is now my #1 Herbert Ross film, my #2 Kevin Bacon film, my #1 John Lithgow film, my #5 Dance Film, my #7 Rock Musical, and my #6 film of 1984.
Footloose was recommended by my cousin Kevin. Averaging together this #1048 ranking with my #1300 ranking of his other film, Some Kind of Wonderful, gives Kevin an average ranking of 1174.
A Few More Screenshots…