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Classic tale of teen rebellion and repression features a delightful combination of dance choreography and realistic and touching performances. When teenager Ren and his family move from big-city Chicago to a small town in the West, he's in for a real case of culture shock. Though he tries hard to fit in, the streetwise Ren can't quite believe he's living in a place where rock music and dancing are illegal. There is one small pleasure, however: Ariel, a troubled but lovely blonde with a jealous boyfriend. and a Bible-thumping minister, who is responsible for keeping the town dance-free. Ren and his classmates want to do away with this ordinance, especially since the senior prom is around the corner, but only Ren has the courage to initiate a battle to abolish the outmoded ban and revitalize the spirit of the repressed townspeople.
For more about Footloose and the Footloose Blu-ray release, see Footloose Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 21, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Herbert Ross
Writer: Dean Pitchford
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Chris Penn, John Lithgow, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest
» See full cast & crew
Footloose Blu-ray Review
A 1980s favorite debuts on Blu-ray with unacceptable video quality.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 21, 2011
Leaping and dancing.
Footloose was Dirty Dancing a few years before there was Dirty Dancing. Both films share in common terribly similar plot lines -- conservative folk are infused with, and are challenged to finally come to accept, a bit of attitude that's realized on the dance floor. They're both movies about acceptance and balance and feature two of a handful of the songs that defined the 1980s in music. Unfortunately for Footloose, the similarities end there. Dirty Dancing enjoys the upper hand in terms of casting, acting, characterization, flow, charm, and audience involvement and emotional attachment. Footloose isn't a bad picture -- it's not relegated to the corner of Dance movies -- but it does lose out in most categories compared to its three-years-younger cousin. The good news is that there's room for both; Footloose, on its own merits, is an enjoyable ride through the clash between teenage rebellion and stiff adult-dictated edict. It's an edgy picture but not a dangerous one. It's catchy and easy to watch -- yet oh so predictable -- and holds up fairly well even more than a decade since its release, primarily because its themes of understanding, compassion, and toleration are universal and still hold true. It's good entertainment and comes with a worthwhile message, rightfully overshadowed -- but not forgotten -- as it may be by both its title theme song and by the superior Dirty Dancing.
Big-city teen Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) is the new kid at school, and he's woefully unprepared for the realities that await him within his new small-town digs. It's a small, conservative, faith-based little corner of America where popular music and dancing have been banned following the untimely deaths of several local teens. Leading the charge is the Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), a hard-line preacher who believes there's no good to come of worldly pressures and pleasures. Ren's nonchalant, happy-go-lucky attitude is blasphemy, and he finds himself in trouble with every move he makes. Nevertheless, he's quick to befriend Ariel Moore (Lori Singer), a rebellious thrill-seeker who also happens to be the good Reverend's daughter. Ren ultimately decides that the sleepy little town's no-fun-allowed mandated lifestyle is one to which he cannot conform. His only choice is to reshape it in his own image, or at least convince the locals to meet him halfway. To do that, he's going to need to take off his dancing shoes and put on his thinking cap if he's got a prayer in showing the town that God doesn't disapprove of song and dance and that a little noisy, grooving fun is just what the doctor ordered.
Footloose isn't the sort of movie that's primed for any sort of meaningful analysis because it's simplistic nature and linear structure leave nothing to the imagination. It's one of those movies where the outcome is never in doubt once the picture has established its characters and ideas in the first ten or twenty minutes. All that's left to keep audiences interested is the film's emotional content and the question of whether the characters will unite in balance and harmony or continue to be forcefully separated. The latter is nearly a given, really, leaving only the former to decide the movie's fate. Does it in any way pull on the heartstrings, make the viewer anything more than a detached observer, or engender in them a desire to stand up and dance? The answer to all three is pretty much "no." Footloose certainly tries, but the plot's transparency nearly renders that effort moot. It's hard to become emotionally involved in a picture when there's no suspense, unless of course the characters are so well written and so finely portrayed that merely experiencing the ebbs and flows of their journey along with them is enough to make the movie a success. That's really what separates Dirty Dancing from Footloose: its characters.
There are no bad characters in Footloose, but there aren't really any that are dynamic or memorable. Most of them feel hollow and some of them even go into near invisibility, shunted off to the side whenever Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, or John Lithgow appear. There's little chemistry between Singer and Bacon, but the two do enough to believably pull the movie through its paces of innocent rebellion. The script rarely challenges them to do more than go through the motions, whether in terms of their struggle to bring a youthful edge, openness, and identity to the town, or in their blossoming romance. John Lithgow is the film's strongest performer, but the part is lessened because there's never any doubt as to the resolution of his hardline character's arc, which is nothing but a reflection of the entire film's primary problem. If Footloose will be remembered for anything, it'll be Kenny Loggins's hit single Footloose. For a man who didn't appear in any movies, he's -- or at least his voice, certainly -- clearly one of the 1980's biggest film stars. His work for Footloose might not have achieved the same level of historic success as he found with Top Gun, but the film's title song is one toe-tapping good time and an iconic 1980s tune.
Footloose Blu-ray, Video Quality
Just about everything that could go wrong went wrong. Footloose is an absolute disaster of a Blu-ray transfer. It's nearly unwatchable, and videophiles in particular will cringe for 107 straight minutes. The only good things to say about the transfer is that fine detailing is sometimes adequate and colors are occasionally natural and pleasant. Otherwise, the transfer is an abject disaster, and it looks even worse in motion than the accompanying screenshots suggest. Evidence of noise reduction abounds. Details fall flat, faces appear smooth and waxy, soft and smeary elements are almost always evident, and grain is constantly frozen in place, except for when it shifts in globs around moving characters, like in-motion objects have some kind of gravitational pull about them that unnaturally stretches and warps surrounding elements, such as walls. Colors are sometimes dim and dull but sometimes stable, balanced, and vibrant; Ren's yellow VW bug and a silver pickup truck that appears regularly throughout the film don't look half bad, but flesh tones range from natural to excessively worn and run down. Compression artifacts plague the entire image. There's a parade of jagged edges that run throughout the movie, and banding is often visible. Heavy crush destroys every dark corner of any and all blackened frames. Edge halos appear here and there, but fortunately edge enhancement isn't Gladiator-level bad. There's some kind of problem in just about every frame. Footloose is in desperate need of a re-master, and this release just screams "cash in for the new movie and plop any available transfer onto Blu-ray with no concern for quality." Paramount's track record isn't all roses, but the studio definitely knows how to put out stellar discs. It's a shame this isn't one of them.
Footloose Blu-ray, Audio Quality
And now for some good news. Footloose's DTS-HD MA 6.1 lossless soundtrack is very much worthy of its high definition release. Paramount's audio presentation isn't going to redefine classic movie high definition audio presentations, but this is a satisfying and revealing listen that's sure to please longtime fans and newcomers alike. Things start with a bang to the beats of one of the 1980's most iconic songs. Kenny Loggins's Footloose blares from the speakers with excellent clarity and an inviting sense of space. Guitar riffs are sharp, higher beats are smooth, and Loggins's vocals are so natural that listeners might believe they're standing next to him in the recording studio, not listening from home years after the fact. The surrounds carry a natural load, and the music really takes advantage of that added channel across the back. The good news is that the rest of the film's music is equally potent and invigorating; rarely have the 1980s sounded so good, and this disc is nearly worth buying for the Loggins song alone. Sadly, the picture quality renders that idea moot. The rest of the track is of a high quality, too. Lithgow's opening monologue inside the church has a nice and spacious echoing sensation to it, the words gently bouncing off the walls and placing the listener in one of the pews amongst the congregation. The bleeps and bloops of the local arcade prove nicely clear and immersive, but some other ambient effects -- the din of the school cafeteria as heard in chapter three, for example -- sound unkempt and undefined. There's a good presence and strength to a few heavier effects, such as when a train slowly rumbles and rattles across the front in chapter five. Dialogue is center-focused and perfectly crisp and natural. This is a very good soundtrack -- it's nearly everything it should be -- that would have made a great companion to better video quality.
Footloose Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Footloose contains a thorough and enlightening assortment of extras.
Footloose Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Footloose is a decent enough movie that works a bit better than its horribly generic and transparent plot would suggest. It's overshadowed by Dirty Dancing and even the popularity of its own theme song, but it's an entertaining enough little genre and decade footnote that still plays well thanks to its ever-relevant themes. Unfortunately, its Blu-ray debut is defined by atrocious picture quality. The lossless soundtrack is fine and the supplements are many, but anyone who even remotely cares about picture quality will be soured on this transfer within minutes. It's bad enough to be a deal-breaker. Rent it.
Footloose: Other Editions
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Footloose Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Footloose (2011) Blu-ray - January 10, 2012
Next March, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment will bring Footloose to Blu-ray. Director Craig Brewer's reimagining of the 1984 musical stars Kenny Wormald (Clerks II) as Ren MacCormack, a free-spirited Boston teenager whose efforts to bring dancing to his ...
• The Making of Footloose - October 12, 2011
With a remake in theaters, Paramount has released the original Footloose on Blu-ray. The movie involved special talent from both the movie and music industry. The soundtrack spun off top 10 hits on the music charts and the film became a blockbuster. Read on about ...
• Exclusive Giveaway: Footloose - September 27, 2011
Blu-ray.com and Paramount Home Entertainment are offering three Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a copy of Footloose, the 1984 hit starring Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer and John Lithgow. The Blu-ray edition is available now.
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