#WayBackWednesday – Footloose (1984)

We’re all stuck in the house, right? There’s never been a better time to dig into those retro movies that you’ve always wanted to watch, but never had the time for. Personally, I’m a bit of a retrophile and tend to watch more older flicks than newer ones. On Fangirlish, you can now look forward to a retro review from me each Wednesday in this column. I’ll be highlighting one throwback movie a week, offering a spoiler-free review of the film, any throwback thoughts from my childhood, and where you can watch the movie yourself. Sit back, relax, and enjoy #WayBackWednesday.

Everyone’s got gaps in their movie viewing. I’ve always tended towards the science fiction and fantasy genres, so if it’s a drama or a “classic” film outside those genres, I’ve probably not seen it. I’ve worked to fill those gaps over the years, and while I’ve still got quite a few, I’ve done much better about branching out. Today’s #WayBackWednesday film got crossed off my list in an unusual way–by way of my freshman English teacher.

For the final paper in his class back in high school, my teacher assigned us to write on censorship. After the papers were handed in, he showed us a film from his youth that illustrated censorship. That, my friends, is how I was introduced to 1984’s Footloose. Check out the trailer and we’ll get started.

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Aside from the issues of censorship presented in the film, there were many things to endear Footloose to me. I grew up in a town not unlike the town in Footloose. A small, insular town, and while dancing wasn’t banned, there was a certain fear of anything outside, anything different, anything not sanitized and family-friendly.

While there was something nice about growing up in a small, community-oriented town, the ever-present fear of and apprehension towards anything different than the status quo was troublesome. This made Footloose more relatable to me as a teenager, but the similarities are even more apparent to me now as an adult. 

Footloose has many things going for it, aside from its serious theme of censorship wrapped in a teen drama. The film boasts a great cast, killer soundtrack, and fun choreography. As a teen, I loved the courage of Ren and Ariel (Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer), watching them fight for their right to party.

As an adult, I’m drawn to the evolution of Reverend Shaw’s (John Lithgow’s) character. Even the supporting cast is great. Check out Footloose for glimpses at a young Sarah Jessica Parker, Dianne Wiest, and introduce yourself to the late Christopher Penn, younger brother of Sean Penn. 

What forever cements Footloose in the annals of history is not just its timeless story, but its soundtrack and choreography. The film’s soundtrack and dance numbers are like opening a time capsule from 1984. Every single song on the Footloose soundtrack is a banger. I mean, how can you not boogie when Kenny Loggins tells you that you gotta cut loose? Let’s not forget the iconic 80s dance montages!

From the opening credits to the end credits, Footloose’s story is told in large part through dance numbers set to 80s pop tunes. My personal favorite is Willard’s (Christopher Penn’s) dance lessons set to Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear It for the Boy.” It makes me laugh every time and also a bit sad that Christopher’s charm left this earth far too soon. 

If you’re looking for a classic of 1980s cinema, look no further than Footloose. You’ll be dancing and singing along by the end. If nothing else, Ren is “a total fox.”

Footloose is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Hulu. 

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