For the Boys

The ‘80s saw a brief spurt of dance movies, beginning with the ridiculous Flashdance and ending with Dirty Dancing. The middle child of that group is Footloose, a ludicrously overwritten, forced drama about the city kid trying to make his way in a deeply religious conservative culture. The angst is outright preposterous.

Footloose never delivers a line with a wink or nod. It’s serious, and so serious that these small town conflicts, macho actions, and overwrought parental control nearly lead to deaths – all because these kids can’t dance. Legally, that is. Kevin Bacon can apparently integrate an entire gymnastics routine inside a factory at will.

Footloose reflected that cultural crusade same as countless other films have

The only genuine moment in Footloose comes as local pastor Shaw Moore (John Lithgow) stops a book burning. It’s the sane moment wherein he realizes his control has gone too far, and his restrictive, heavy-handed nature bred close-minded fear-mongering. If only modern day culture took that message from Footloose, but then again, it’s Footloose.

Other than its magical, double-Oscar nominated soundtrack (deserving of both), Footloose leaves no lasting imprint. The teens come across as ridiculous and whiny. The parents are drawn as caricatures so it’s easier for a teen audience to see them as villains, but not so far as to make them outright villains, just light antagonists. The sloppy, predictable romances and stock friendships create limited characters form archetypes, especially Bacon’s “big city boy in the deep south” archetype.

In taking his moment to speak to a city council, Ren (Bacon) pleads his case to legalize dancing in the town. Yet, even with that platform, he never makes the case as to why this is his cause. It’s so minor compared to the town’s other problems, dancing never feels important outside of his limited worldview. Yes, it’s an asinine, restrictive law, and Moore’s preaching against rock n’ roll music was in line with conservative fears of the day. Footloose reflected that cultural crusade same as countless other films have, before and after. The difference is they didn’t always dress that mirror-like reflection of society through the guise of the absurd. There’s fantastic comedy potential in Footloose’s core values; it’s a missed opportunity to try and drive real world drama through its center.

Video

Footloose looks… dull in 4K. It’s rudimentary, less sharp than it is soft, and less about the source material than unimpressive mastering. Thankfully, Paramount doesn’t reduce the grain to nothing as it remains intact and easily resolved by the encode.

Color takes a turn toward warmth, even to an excessive degree. Flesh tones have a pasty, pastel hue, although it’s not severe. However, it’s just off a notch, enough to be noticeable. Dolby Vision appears to do little else other than, well, nothing.

Darker scenes show marginal crush, even slight smearing when moving out of shadows. Footloose then appears hazy, imprecise, and lackluster at its worst. A shot at 16:54, a Bacon close-up, looks optically zoomed, but it’s also smearing aggressively. That whole lunchroom scene looks suspect actually, and that’s not the last of them. Crossing the bridge around 53-minutes, the scene takes on an overly processed appearance, messy smearing grain and all. It’s terribly inconsistent, even when Footloose looks its best.

Audio

Kenny Loggins’ iconic opening title tack makes an immediate impression in DTS-HD. Every speaker lights up, filling the full soundstage. Given the importance of music to Footloose, that’s an enormous plus, obviously. However, 5.1 is the only option.

Overall clarity sounds fantastic for a 1984 production, the dialog crisp and the range acceptable. Footloose doesn’t have any breakout moments in the low-end, although it offers a few thumps to carry the beats.

Extras

The Blu-ray holds all bonuses, beginning with a commentary from writer Dean Pitchford and producer Craig Zadan. The second commentary comes from Kevin Bacon, who returns for a short featurette. A Sarah Jessica Parker interview follows. A two-part making-of joins a few other basic featurettes, Kevin Bacon’s screen test and a costume montage wrap this disc up.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Footloose (1984)
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

Desperate for drama, Footloose tells an absurd, overblown story alongside a faultless ’80s soundtrack.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 33 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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