Footloose is a fun musical centered heavily in drama that exemplifies why people love 1980's film. It gives you laughs along with sincere tears. This film delves into the repression of middle America and suburban conservatism. You see kids that just want to have fun, while the oppressive adults cling to religious fanaticism, traditional values, and absolute censorship. Footloose is a coming of age story, dance musical, and romance tale all in one delightful package.
Director Herbert Ross does an admirable job finding interesting shots, apt framing, and cool panning sequences. The dance numbers are well choreographed and exhilarating. You get to focus in on these students and the most intimate moments in these characters' lives thanks to Ross' focused direction. I found Footloose's direction to hold up quite well.
Furthermore, Kevin Bacon as Ren is remarkable leading Footloose in his breakout role! I think Bacon is totally believable as a Chicago kid turned small town hero. His acting is already compelling on a dramatic level. He delivers tender lines and great monologues with the small careful touch that rings true. He is genuine and natural. Bacon manages drama, romance, dance, and comedy all in one performance. No wonder Bacon's career took off after Footloose.
On the other hand, my major problem with Footloose that keeps it from timeless perfection is the poor acting from Lori Singer as Ariel. She is flat both as a dramatic lead and as a romantic lead. She delivers line after line with a ridiculously overacted tone. I cannot believe how bad her performance is in Footloose. She constantly interjects with a nonsensical line for a script that does her lackluster acting no favors. She is awkward and not convincing as her character. Unfortunately, Singer ruins the numerous scenes she is in as the supporting cast has to save her underwhelming diction.
However, Footloose boasts a wonderful supporting cast. John Lithgow is superb as the ultra fundamentalist preacher and father figure Reverend Shaw Moore. He delivers a layered and nuanced performance splendidly. You will loathe him until you understand him. Similarly, Dianne Wiest as Ariel's mother Vi Moore is contemptible for her initial silence, then lovable for her outspokenness. I appreciate her diverse role as well as Lithgow's acting. Both respectable performances.
Likewise, Chris Penn is certainly amusing as the befuddled friend Willard to Kevin Bacon's Ren. I also truly appreciate the lovely performance from a young spunky Sarah Jessica Parker. She is so convincing and likable in Footloose when she's on screen. She radiates a good time so much so that I think she should have been cast as the lead not the annoying Lori Singer. What a missed opportunity. I do not normally like Parker in movies, but she pulls off Rusty with a wry charm.
Finally, I would be remiss to not mention Footloose's outstanding soundtrack. Kenny Loggins and Moving Pictures get the main highlight moments, but the entire musical accompaniment is glorious fun. You will want to dance and sing along for sure. Footloose's soundtrack is one of cinema's all time best.
Yes, its a bit cheesy, familiar and your typical teenage feature but it also works like a charm. The feature goes into places as anticipated and still doesn't go low on entertainment. The execution by Herbert Ross is the real culprit that restraints this flying free script and concept by Dean Pitchford who has done an amazing job on writing the songs too. Kevin Bacon is good on his role along with Lori Singer and John Lithgow who are amazing in it too. Footloose is stunning on terms of musical features and a cultural hub that attratcts younger viewers but if craft is accounted in, it fails to offer anything more than a two page script.