182. Footloose

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Movie: Footloose

Release Date: February 17, 1984

Director: Herbert Ross

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest, John Lithgow, Chris Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker.

Tag Lines: “One kid. One town. One chance.”

“All he wanted to do was dance.”

“The music is on his side.”

“He’s a big-city kid in a small town. They said he’d never win. He knew he had to.

Relevance: 1984 was the year that I became a teenager. Even at that very young age, I was already a huge fan of music and movies. I was a few months into my Madonna obsession, although that would blossom over the next few months with her soon to be released “Like A Virgin” album. So both dance and music were very important to me. I listened to the radio all of the time and was singing and dancing around the house pretty much non-stop.

January of 1984 was when I first heard the song “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. I was instantly hooked, as was the rest of the planet. It reached number one in numerous countries and catapulted Mr. Loggins already successful career even further. I absolutely adored everything about it. As a child I didn’t just listen to a song once, I listened to it over and over and over again, each time singing it louder and more confidently. Even if my family didn’t like the song, they definitely knew it.

As soon as I saw the trailer for the movie ‘Footloose,’ I knew I had to see it as soon as humanly possible. By that time I already had the cassette of its soundtrack and was listening to it incessantly. If Madonna had not released “Like A Virgin” at the end of that year, “Footloose Soundtrack” would have been my favorite album of 1984. There was not a weak song on the album and I never tired of it. In fact, at the end of March when I officially turned thirteen, I received my second copy of the soundtrack as a gift because my first one wore out.

When the movie was released in February, I may not have been the first in line, but I was pretty darn close. I went to see it with a friend and classmate. Although I knew he was a fan of the music, I am sure he did not share as much enthusiasm about seeing the film as I did. Just like the song, I was instantly hooked. I loved the story and fell in love (although being a “heterosexual” at the time, it was more of a “guy crush”) with Kevin Bacon. He was the ultimate cool kid, fighting against authority and religion and of course, getting the girl. And boy could he dance. (He actually does the majority of it in the film.)

The film was a huge box office success but more importantly it was a huge success with me. Even though I already saw it in theaters, I rented the film as soon as it became available and watched it numerous times with my family. When it played on HBO, I tried to catch it as much as possible. Eventually my family owned the VHS and it became a part of our movie collection. I now own the anniversary DVD and watch it every now and again. The soundtrack remained a favorite of mine as well. It was one of the first CD’s I ever bought when I got my CD player in 1989, and to this day those songs pop up on my iTunes playlists. Every time I hear them or every time I see the movie, I am thirteen again. And I love it.

Today’s Thoughts: As soon as those dancing feet appeared on my television screen synchronized with Kenny Loggins’ title song, a smile appeared on my face and my hands were tapping right along on my coffee mug. There was no better way to start the day today than by watching ‘Footloose’ first thing this morning. Unless of course I was watching it with Kevin Bacon. Alas, I was alone.

Sure, it’s a cheesy movie from the 1980’s, but nobody in their right mind would say there is anything wrong with that. The movie, although dated on many fronts, does still maintain its overall joy and charm it brought to me when I was an adolescent. A lot of that has to do with the dancing and that glorious music. Those songs are still so much fun to hear. But there is also a lot of heart to the film and it has many poignant moments throughout. That is thanks to some of the performances by its ensemble cast. Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Chris Penn and Sarah Jessica Parker all give life to those rambunctious teenage wanna-be dancers. All of them are a joy to watch and re-watch. But John Lithgow has some really powerful moments in the film, especially when he is opposite Lori Singer and the always wonderful Diane Wiest.

‘Footloose’ is iconic for its music and dance sequences, but its themes of rebellion and standing up for what you believe will never grow old. They are universal and will be relevant for any generation today or years to come. Who knew that this poorly reviewed film from 1984 would live on for decades and spark both a stage musical and a 2011 remake? Although in my humble opinion, skip those and stick to the original. There just ain’t nothing better.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Footloose,” Kenny Loggins, Dean Pitchford (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song, “Let’s Hear It For the Boy,” Tom Snow, Dean Pitchford (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, “Footloose,” Kenny Loggins, Dean Pitchford (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, iTunes, Hulu, Sling TV, DVD Availability.

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