Tuesday, March 15, 2005


1984, US, directed by Herbert Ross

Twenty years on, it's a little hard to see why Footloose caused quite the fuss it did - which says as much about the evolution of 'youth' films since 1984 as it does about my memories of the movie from a viewing on video circa 1986. There's no denying the casting magic: Kevin Bacon was poised for a breakout role after several smaller parts in high-profile movies, while Chris Penn and Lori Singer also catch the eye (you wonder why Penn, in particular, didn't go on to headline much better things, but his ballooning weight can't have helped). The story, though, is something of a mess: there are several great individual scenes, whether drama (such as in the meeting of minds between Kevin Bacon's character and the tightly-zipped local minister portrayed by John Lithgow), or dance action, but the film seems to lurch from one scene to the next with no great coherence. I don't demand high realism from popcorn features, but the plotting here seems especially loose; any time things lag, they just pop Kenny Loggins' Footloose on again. That said, it's amazing to note how slow, in a good sense, some of the movie is in comparison to more recent youth hits: Hollywood in 1984 still assumed that a teen audience could deal with scenes of more than 60 seconds, where not that much happened beyond dialogue, and it's something that's sorely missed in the more slam-bang 90's and 00's.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States