Blu-ray Review: Footloose (Deluxe Edition)



I’m not ashamed to admit that I have no rhythm when it comes to dancing. While this may be the case, I’m also not embarrassed to go out on the dance floor and give it my best shot (under the right circumstances, of course. If people somehow ever form a circle around me in hopes to see some smooth white boy moves straight from the source, well, they’ll likely be waiting a while.) That being said, the only song that comes to mind that automatically gets my feet moving regardless of when I hear it is the theme to the film Footloose, aptly named “Footloose.”

This is just one of many hit songs created for the movie that were actually written by the film’s screenwriter, Dean Pitchford, as well as the individual singers who performed each piece. Footloose is a musical dance film about a small town where dancing is illegal, so in order to help amplify the musical side of the story Pitchford created these songs to be played not only as the soundtrack to the film, but also as a musical accompaniment to what the characters were feeling at certain key points in the film. It certainly does work, as not only did the soundtrack become a hit, but it also made the overall movie much more memorable.

Footloose stars Kevin Bacon (in his first big breakout lead role) as Ren McCormack, a city boy who’s forced to move with his mother to a small town where they live with her brother. In this town Ren is viewed as a troublemaker simply because he’s an outsider from the big city. On top of this he quickly finds out that dancing, his main source of creative output and entertainment, is actually outlawed.

As he continues to try and fit in he quickly realizes that something is wrong with this town and its banning of music actually stems from a greater set of issues that certain people would rather not face. The main advocate on the music and dance bans is Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), whose son died in a tragic accident five years prior, which he blames on the influence of music. His daughter Ariel (Lori Singer) is constantly rebelling against her father and this quickly leads her into the arms of Ren, Reverend Moore’s adversary on his quest to keep his town “pure.” With most of the town against him, Ren has an uphill battle to face if he’s going to prove that the problems the town has aren’t because of music and dancing, but because of the narrow-minded views the town itself has when it comes to living life.

There are multiple layers to this story, as well as a solid moral; however, it’s not without its faults. The characters aren’t that memorable, outside of Ren and Reverend Moore. There’s also a lack of emotional connection with any of the characters (though Lithgow does reveal in the special features that an extra on 3rd Rock from the Sun approached him with a touching story about how he was from a small town and his father was a reverend and that Lithgow’s character from Footloose ended up bringing them closer together after he took his dad to see the film.) That said, those who aren’t from a community like this likely won’t find the same attachment to these characters. It’s not that they don’t hit on the basic levels of cinema, we want to see them succeed and overcome the obstacles set before them, it’s just that they don’t strike any emotional chords along the way of doing so.

At the same time, one can’t deny the charm of Kevin Bacon and his fantastic work and obvious passion behind the character really helps move the story forward while keeping the attention of the audience. There’s also the fact that the movie doesn’t always take itself too seriously, as well as the noticeable fun everyone involved in it has throughout, that really makes it an enjoyable movie to sit through. Also, be sure not to wear your Sunday shoes while watching this, as I guarantee they’ll be kicked off by the end.

The sound in the film is a solid 6.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, which really shines when it comes to the films soundtrack. The dialogue is also fairly clear throughout, though with a film like this you really want it to kick into high gear when it comes to the music and it definitely delivers on that front. The video quality is transferred well enough for your average fan or viewer; however, those who really pine for a perfectly crisp picture may notice flaws here that most viewers wouldn’t think twice about.

There are a wealth of extras to be found here, and it’s really worth the buy for fans of the film who wish to convert to Blu-ray on this fact alone. Some of the extras are transferred over from the 2004 DVD release, but they’re also nicely placed in an extras section entitled, “DVD Archive 2004.” This is a really nice feature as it shows they’re admitting to double-dipping in the extras, while also showing what’s new. It’s also nice because if these weren’t included people would complain that if they want to view all the extras they now have to swap back and forth between discs. This solves that and keeps everything in one neat package.

There are two commentaries to be found:

1) Commentary with Producer Craig Zadan & Writer Dean Pitchford – This is an incredibly interesting commentary that fans new and old will definitely want to listen to. There are wonderful insights about filming, location problems, and just about everything you’d want to know straight from the creators themselves.

2) Commentary by Kevin Bacon – Kevin Bacon is a passionate person when it comes to filmmaking and it comes across in this commentary, as well as the other features on this disc. Whenever you get a chance to hear a commentary from the lead actor involved in the film, especially one as devoted to the work and interesting to listen to as Bacon is, you make sure you listen.

Let’s Dance! Kevin Bacon on Footloose (HD) — This featurette runs at 12 minutes 20 seconds and is all Bacon on his role, the film, his being a performer and his early days in acting. He gets pretty in-depth for such a quick segment and it’s well worth a watch.

From Bomont to the Big Apple: An Interview with Sarah Jessica Parker (HD) — Parker plays a minor character in the film; however, with her explosion into stardom it’s nice to see they got her back to reminisce about her time on set. She actually has some very interesting stories to tell in this featurette that runs at almost eight minutes in length, including one where she talks about writing everyone after the film was over in an attempt to keep in touch, only to realize that nobody does that in the business. She says while working on a film it can feel like a family, but once it’s finished it’s a very rare thing to find someone who remains as close a friend once all is said and done. Very interesting quick view here.

Remembering Willard (HD) – This featurette is six minutes in length and remembers actor Chris Penn through the eyes of Kevin Bacon, Sarah Jessica Parker, and oddly enough Penn himself from a 2002 interview.

Kevin Bacon’s Screen Test (HD) — The screen test turned out to be a lot more than we’re used to seeing, and definitely a lot more than Bacon expected when he showed up. The filmmakers set up entire scenes, had make-up come in and even had a stylist give Bacon his famous haircut from the film (which floored Bacon when he learned it cost $1,500 to have it done). There was editing involved, and pretty elaborate takes. It’s interesting to watch, and even more fun with Bacon giving commentary throughout.

Kevin Bacon Costume Montage (HD) — In the screen test featurette Bacon talks about how they had him try on a whole bunch of different wardrobe pieces in order to try to sell him to the studio (who didn’t want him to play the lead role.) It’s the exact piece they edited, did lighting for and added music to in its entirety. Pretty cool to see the extremes they went to for this. It runs at just under three minutes in length.

Finally we have the DVD Archive Footage:

1) Footloose: A Modern Musical Part 1 — This featurette runs at just under 18 minutes in length and has Bacon, Lithgow and Zadan and Pitchford, as well as a few others talk about the film. They talk about how it’s actually sort of based on a true story, about the town of Elmore City in Oklahoma, where in the early 1900s dancing was made illegal, and it wasn’t until 1979-1980 that students began questioning it and eventually petitioned to have the law erased so they could have prom.

2) Footloose: A Modern Musical Part 2 — This one runs at 12 minutes in length and talks about rehearsing the film, how Bacon’s haircut became so popular as well as other stories from cast and crew members.

3) Songs that Tell a Story — This feature is just under 14 minutes in length and goes into greater detail about how the songs were made directly for the film, and why certain performers were chosen. We hear from some of these performers, as well as the Pitchford, who had his hands all over every aspect of this film. A great watch indeed.

When it comes right down to it, Footloose shows that a film doesn’t have to be perfect to be celebrated and considered a classic by many. It really was the voice of a generation, and a lot of the themes and plot points are still completely relevant today, which is likely why a modernized version of the film is about to be released in theatres (fear not die hard fans, early word of mouth says it stays incredibly true to the original). Regardless, this Blu-ray has enough extras to keep fans incredibly happy, and the movie holds up well enough that newcomers can enjoy Kevin Bacon in all his shadowy warehouse, back flipping glory.

Paramount Home Entertainment presents Footloose. Written by: Dean Pitchford. Directed by: Herbert Ross. Starring: Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow, Lori Singer, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chris Penn. Running time: 107 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on Blu-ray: Sept. 27, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.

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