4K Blu-ray Review: Footloose (40th Anniversary)

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story


If you had to guess what looked better, the 40th anniversary 4K remastering of the Kevin Bacon classic Footloose, or me on the dance floor rocking out to “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins…well, it probably wouldn’t take you long to choose me and my magical move set – and while I’m truly humbled by that, the correct answer is without a doubt this 4K remastering.

Paramount has breathed new life into this release, as Footloose has never looked better. This is often what’s said for 4K releases, as in the majority of scenarios the upgraded quality is going to surpass the previous versions, but in some cases the earlier releases are in such rough shape that it isn’t until they’re given the proper 4K remastering treatment that you notice just how much the movie needed it, and how this allows the film to continue to dance into the future instead of becoming a grainy, drab wallflower that nobody pays any attention to.  

While this visual upgrade is a no-question must for fans of the film, I’d be interested to see how newer generations may view this rebellious tale. There was a remake of Footloose released in 2011, so it’s hard to say if younger audiences would want to give the original a chance, seeing as they have a version that may speak to them a bit more if they choose to take in the story. That said, there’s a charm – and dare I say even a cheesiness – to the original that can be imitated, but never duplicated. And Kevin Bacon, who is irreplaceable.

Then there’s the soundtrack itself, which had two songs that were nominated at the Oscars (“Footloose” and “Let’s Hear It For The Boys”). “Footloose” 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 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 – and even surpassed it in the eyes of some.

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 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.

4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review:

The remastering sees the film get the 2160p/Dolby Vision treatment and the difference is night and day compared to the 2011 Blu-ray release. The resolution hits new heights, and the details in the scenery, costumes and the actors themselves all pop nicely. The original film had certain issues, with some softness and it not being a film that needed any sort of dynamic range, so there’s only so much a remastering of that source material can do.

Still, the graininess has gone down considerably, the colours that are there look great, and as a whole the film just looks like it’s gotten a much-needed makeover allowing it to regain the spring in its step. So if you picked up the 2011 Blu-ray release, know that you got a solid decade out of it, but also know that it’s well worth the upgrade for the work the studio has done here.

On the audio side of things we’ve got a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix which does the job both in delivering clean and clear dialogue, as well as rocking your surrounding area with the film’s upbeat, fun soundtrack. While it’s nothing to write home about, your feet likely won’t think that’s the case, as they’ll be swaying side to side throughout whether you realize it or not.

Special Features:

The special features are carried over from the previous Blu-ray release, so this purchase is for the picture quality upgrade alone – though that is often reason enough with these 4K releases, as they tend to leave their home-release predecessors in the dust.

The legacy features are as follows:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Paramount Pictures presents Footloose. Directed by: Herbert Ross. Written by: Dean Pitchford. Starring: Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow, Lori Singer, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chris Penn. Running time: 107 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on 4K Blu-ray: Feb. 13, 2024.

Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.