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FOOTLOOSE (director: Herbert Ross ; screenwriter: Dean Pitchford; cinematographer: Ric Waite; editor: Paul Hirsch; music: Kenny Loggins; cast: Kevin Bacon (Ren McCormack), John Lithgow (Reverend Moore), Lori Singer (Ariel Moore), Diane Wiest (Vi Moore), Sarah Jessica Parker (Rusty), Christopher Penn (Willard), Frances Lee Mccain (Ethel Maccormack), Jim Youngs (Chuck); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Craig Zadan/Lewis S. Rachmil; Paramount Pictures; 1984)
It’s watchable only because the energetic cast does wonders with the banal story.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Herbert Ross(“Funny Lady”/”The Sunshine Boys”/”The Goodbye Girls”) directs this period piece 1980s musical rebel teen movie that exploits teen frustration without really understanding their problems though it pretends to. It also tells how blind censorship promotes hate instead of love in a conformist town. Dean Pitchford writes the turgid screenplay. It’s watchable only because the energetic cast does wonders with the banal story. Kevin Bacon is a dynamo as the reluctant rebel leader.

After his parents divorce, clean-cut high school student Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) is relocated with mom (Frances Lee Mccain) from Chicago to Beaumont, aBible Belt all-white Protestant small-town in the Midwest that bans Rock ‘n’ Roll. The town’s neurotic conservative minister, Moore (John Lithgow), sermonizes from the pulpit that dance should be banned. we soon learn that’s because his sondied in a rock-music related incident, which he determined was a sign from the Lord that such music was depraved and will lead to destroying lives. The conservative town council not only bans dancing, but books like Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. That’s something the minister doesn’t commit to.

Meanwhile Moore’s attractive high school student daughter Ariel (Lori Singer) dumps her bully jealous boyfriend Chuck (Jim Youngs) and dates Ren, after he beats the boyfriend in a game of “chicken” played with tractors. Senior classmate Willard (Chris Penn) and his pals soon become friends of Ren, and the crew eventually gets up enough nerve to petition the town council for them to have a school dance. Things get corny but change for the better when petition leader Ren reminds the elders that in Psalm 149 King David showed that dancing was a form of prayer.

The background music features the tepid soundtrack selections of singers like Kenny Loggins (“Footloose”/”I’m Free”), John Mellencamp (“Hurts So Good”), Foreigner (“Waiting For A Girl Like You”), Deniece Williams (“Let’s Hear It for the Boy”), Jim Steinman and Bonnie Tyler (“Holding Out For A Hero”), and Shalamar (“Dancing In The Sheets”).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”