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Paramount Studios presents
“If our lord wasn't testing us, how would you account for the proliferation these days of this obscene rock and roll music, with its gospel of easy sexuality and relaxed morality?”
DVD ReviewAs I have grown older (yikes!) I have begun to discover that the films of my youth lose the luster they once brightly held. Some still entertain and are truly capable of standing the test of time, while others leave me shaking my head wondering just what exactly I was thinking all those years ago. Footloose rests somewhere is the middle, as after nearly two decades the overall appeal of the film has slightly lessened with time. You know, like parachute pants have.
Footloose tells the story of Ren McCormick (Bacon), a Chicago native who finds himself stuck in the small town of Bomont after his parents divorce. The trouble with Bomont is that dancing and rock and roll music have been outlawed by the overly strict Reverend Shaw Moore (Lithgow), someone who believes that the presence of rock music and the subsequent good times it provides will lead to the downfall of the children in this quaint rural town. As is often the case in such stories, his daughter Ariel (Singer) is the most rebellious girl in town, as well as the object of Ren's desire. Soon Ren is battling for Ariel's affections with another suitor, while at the same time forced into a battle with her father over the right to dance and have fun. Eventually it all comes down to a senior prom where the big question is whether anyone will have the nerve to follow Ren's rebellion and get out on the dance floor.
The plot befuddles me as a grown adult, yet after watching the film on DVD I remember just why I loved it as a child. The film so effortlessly achieves an unabashed energy that I began to find myself caught up in it again. The snappy pop soundtrack and overly designed dance sequences are to the 1980s what apple pie is to America—they just fit. The problem is that the premise seems laughable today. Scenes meant to present an immense amount of drama and conflict come off as silly, including one scene in which Ariel leads Ren to a top secret location where numerous pop culture items are kept hidden from the town elders. One has to wonder if by some chance the Holy Grail is buried somewhere in the stash, given the grave secrecy with which the location is shrouded.
Too much of what occurs does so without any sort of explanation. Why does Reverend Moore inexplicably change his mind about rock music and dance at the drop of a hat when he has been set up to be the singular voice against it? The viewer is led to believe that a book burning is what changes the Reverend's mind, but then why would his daughter keep books hidden in a secret place? These questions ought not need to be asked of an enjoyable and well made movie.
In supporting roles, a young Chris Penn does a fine job as Willard, Ren's best friend in Bomont. John Lithgow is showy as Reverend Moore, though his work often feels more like grandstanding. More so than its hit theme song, Footloose may be remembered for Kevin Bacon's breakthrough performance, It helps that Bacon is so likeable, because his tough Chicago personality is not entirely compelling at first. His Ren stands above the material as he gives his character a voice that seems lacking in the script.
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: I had at first expected the 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer to be yet another jewel in the Paramount catalog. So many of the transfers done on older films from the studio look nearly as terrific as their current day releases.However, the print is full of flaws; scratches and dirt appear so often that I just got used to seeing them. Sharpness and detail are of low quality and the film boasts no real improvement over a simple VHS copy in terms of clarity. Colors appear faded and fail to standout from one another. This is simply a disappointing transfer.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: A new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix has been created and the results are simply adequate. The soundtrack seems to be the single improvement; the imaging of the pop songs is terrific, filling the room in both the surround, left and right speakers. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout. An average mix to be sure.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Extras Review: No extra features have been included for Footloose, unless you count the thirteen chapter stops and static, themed menus.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsIf you were to list the key ingredients for a 1980s time capsule, I would make a strong case for the inclusion of Footloose. Sure, it's silly, but it is the perfect representation of its era, if only the DVD from Paramount had been given the treatment that so many of the film's fans feel it deserves.
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