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Retro on Retro: Footloose

Kevin Bacon is an icon

When Footloose first came out, critics absolutely trashed it to pieces. Now, it’s a beloved classic and Kevin Bacon is one of the most famous stars in the world. The original 1984 film is one of my favourites, because, well, it’s fun to watch. 

Footloose follows Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), a big city kid who has recently moved to a small town. What is strange about this town is that music and dancing are illegal. Throughout the film, McCormack attempts to overturn the ban, while a local minister, Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), begins to doubt the very thing he preaches. The film follows a predictable pattern and relies on many beloved 80s tropes, which some people may prefer. 

I found Ariel Moore (Lori Singer), the preacher’s daughter, to be annoying at times because of her suicidal games. At the same time, I sympathize with her and understand her behaviour, since her abusive boyfriend and her controlling dad were horrendous. I prefer Lori Singer’s performance of Ariel over Julianne Hough though, because I think Singer captures the rebellious aspect of the character better. 

The role of Ren was iconic for Kevin Bacon and he does a great job of making Ren look cool. It was fun seeing Ren go through all the proper legal channels to try to undo this law, instead of having a secret prom. 

Paramount Pictures, Phoenix Pictures

Okay, so the best scene ever is the moody dance sequence in the warehouse. It puts a smile on my face every time I see it. It’s so fucking intense and there’s so much energy in the dance too. I don’t care if Kevin Bacon is sick of it, I will never be. Also, the same shot of him jumping is replayed six times, which begs the question: was that necessary? In my opinion, it is because those over the top dramatic elements add to the fun of it all.

Paramount Pictures, Phoenix Pictures

Footloose does tackle difficult issues, such as grief, censorship and repression. Since the film covers so many topics, it’s not approached to its full capability. 

Nevertheless, I think Footloose is unfairly criticized and hated on. Is it perfect? Of course not, no film is perfect. But, it’s an 80’s teen musical and it is loosely based on real life events, so it does attempt to portray reality in an interesting way. 

Footloose makes you want to dance, and if you hate this film, you just hate Kevin Bacon and fun.

Ashlynn Chand

Ashlynn was the 2019-20 Arts and Culture Editor. She was a fifth year English and Psychology student. She can be described as a friendly neighbourhood cat: very small, very fast, and can sleep anywhere.

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