A young man, played by Kevin Bacon, moves into a small town ruled by a fire and brimstone preacher. He has trouble fitting in but slowly wins over most of the kids in the town with his straightforward wisdom and 80s cool. He’s attracted to the preacher’s daughter while at the same time recognizing that she is unhinged and suicidal thanks to her brother’s untimely death and her father’s smothering righteousness. Fortunately Kevin Bacon saves the day by teaching everyone how to dance and making all the adults realize what jerks they’ve been. Kenny Loggins sings the title song about five times.
Ages 13 and up
The film is rated PG but considering all the incidental swearing, smoking, drinking, sexual innuendo, and fighting (that results in at least one spectacularly bloody nose) I think it’s more appropriate as PG-13. Our 10-year-old daughter freaked out at the tractor chicken race although she may have just been concerned that Bonnie Tyler was unable to find a hero.
I don’t know what it was about the 80s but kids did a lot of swearing. From Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to Matthew Broderick in War Games the scripts were packed with casual swearing. The trick with Footloose is that it’s also packed with smoking, drinking, sexual innuendo, drugs, and fighting. When I say packed with smoking and drinking I don’t mean the adults, these are the high school kids. It does make you wonder how they have such ready access to liquor and cigarettes when they’re not even allowed to dance.
Best not to think about it too hard.
We recently had some success watching War Games with our son so we thought we might have luck if we dug deeper into 80s classics. It can be hard to find something good for movie night that will appeal to the whole family. Unfortunately our daughter seems to have some aversion to the 80s movies we’ve tried so far but I’m sure she will grow into them eventually. I’ve been considering Footloose for some time but until recently Netflix appeared to only be carrying the recent remake and there was no way I was going to pass up a soundtrack with Kenny Loggins, Bonnie Tyler, Sammy Hagar, Shalamar, and Mike Reno from Loverboy singing a duet with Ann Wilson.
Kevin Bacon is perfectly fine as the cool city kid who’s into gymnastics and dancing his troubles away but the performance that really animates the movie is John Lithgow as the preacher. He’s the spiritual leader of the town and the character that most clearly demonstrates the change in the town as it shifts to a more tolerant community. If we don’t believe his transformation there’s no movie and happily for the filmmakers John Lithgow has the talent to pull it off.
All too often revisiting movies and TV from your childhood results in a, “what the hell was I thinking?” head slap but if you can get yourself in the mood for cheese Footloose will always be a fun blast from the past.