Footloose: Special Edition
Ask any girl (er, woman) who grew up in the '80s what she watched at slumber parties, circa 1986, and you're likely to get one of two answers: Flashdance or Footloose. While the former spawned fashion trends and undoubtedly gave screenwriter Joe Eszterhas the debatably fortunate idea for Showgirls the latter holds up a lot better, now that the Smurfs sleeping bags are on eBay instead of the living room floor. In what is still his signature role, Kevin Bacon (sporting a brush cut that looks like it was styled with a weed-whacker) stars as Ren McCormick, a sophisticated Chicago kid who moves to the repressed rural town of Beaumont, where dancing is banned and minister Shaw Moore (John Lithgow) dictates the citizens' morality. With his rowdy rock-and-roll music and cool VW bug, Ren promptly alienates everyone except Reverend Moore's wild daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer); things only get worse when Ren decides to fight for the right to have a senior prom. With that kind of plot, Footloose could easily have turned into a standard "let's all get together and fight the system!" underdog comedy. And it certainly does have its cheesy moments (Ren dancing up a storm in the empty warehouse, anyone?). But thanks to strong lead performances and unexpected dramatic depth, Footloose is the rare teen flick with staying power. Bacon is convincing as fish-out-of-water Ren, who only wants to go about his business and have a good time, and Lithgow is surprisingly affecting as the conflicted Moore, who's scared and confused behind his fire-and-brimstone facade. In the supporting cast, Dianne Weist is quietly moving as Moore's wife, Vi, and Chris Penn steals his scenes as Ren's rhythmically challenged friend Willard (yep, that's a young, brunette Sarah Jessica Parker as Willard's girlfriend Rusty). And then, of course, there's the music. From Kenny Loggins' title tune to Deniece Williams' "Let's Hear it For the Boy," Footloose still has one of the best soundtracks of the decade. Paramount's "Special Collector's Edition" upgrades their previous bare-bones DVD with several features, including a new commentary from Kevin Bacon and a second track with producer Craig Zadan and screenwriter/lyricist Dean Pitchford. Also on board is the two-part documentary "Footloose: A Modern Musical" (29 min. total), which is remarkably better than the standard featurette fluff, tracing the screenplay's origins from a small town in Oklahoma through casting, choreography, and principal photography, while "Footloose: Songs That Tell a Story" (14 min.) looks at the smash '80s soundtrack with comments from Kenny Loggins, Sammy Hagar, and others. The anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) appears identical to the original release, while Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround audio tracks are available. The movie is looking a bit old these days, but that's probably mostly thanks to the clothes and hair styles; Footloose's story may have aged well, but '80s fashions were less fortunate. Keep-case.