Footloose (1984)

Thirty-nine years ago, the film Footloose premiered. A town that outlawed dancing, a rebel that couldn’t keep his feet from moving, a blockbuster soundtrack, and the best final dance scene of any movie. You have to see this movie.

Title: Footloose
Directed by: Herbert Ross
Produced by: Lewis J. Rachmil, Craig Zadan
Written by: Dean Pitchford
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest, John Lithgow
Music by: Tom Snow, Jim Steinman, Kenny Loggins, Dean Pitchford
Cinematography: Ric Waite
Edited by: Paul Hirsch
Production Company: Phoenix Pictures, IndieProd Company Productions, Silver Screen Partners
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release date: February 17, 1984
Running time: 110 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $8.2 million
Box office: $80 million (domestic)

Chicago native Ren MacCormack and his mother Ethel move to the small town of Bomont to live with Ren’s aunt and uncle in the rural Southwest. While attending church, Ren meets Rev. Shaw Moore, his wife Vi, and daughter Ariel. Ariel recklessly endangers her life as a form of rebellion due to her dad’s strict religious nature, much to the ire of her friends and boyfriend Chuck Cranston.

At school, Ren befriends Willard Hewitt, and learns the town council has banned dancing and rock music within the town boundary. He soon begins to fall for Ariel. After trading insults with Chuck, Ren is challenged to a game of chicken involving tractors. Ren wins when his shoelace becomes stuck and prevents him from jumping from the tractor. Rev. Shaw distrusts Ren, and forbids Ariel from seeing him after she shows an interest in him.

Wanting to show his friends the joy and freedom of dance, Ren drives Ariel, Willard, and Ariel’s best friend Rusty to a country bar 100 miles away from Bomont. Once there, Willard is unable to dance and gets into a jealous fight with a man who dances with Rusty. On the drive home, the gang crosses a bridge where Ariel tells the story about how her older brother died in a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol after a night of dancing. The accident destroyed her father, and prompted him to persuade the town council to enact strict anti-liquor, anti-drug, and anti-dance laws. Ariel begins to openly challenge her father’s authority at home. Ren decides to challenge the anti-dancing ordinance so that the high school can hold a senior prom.

Willard is embarrassed at his inability to dance with Rusty, leading Ren to give him private lessons after school hours. Chuck confronts Ariel about her feelings towards Ren behind the bleachers. Ariel throws the first punch, which Chuck retaliates to with a backhand slap, knocking her to the ground. Realising what he’s done, Chuck begins to remove himself from the situation and getting back into his vehicle; however, Ariel further escalates the situation by getting a pole and starting to smash the lights of Chuck’s pickup, he grabs her to prevent further damage, but she continues to fight – it is only ended by Chuck finally astride her after a scuffle with one final slap, incapacitating her and allowing him to drive away, telling her that he “was through with her anyway”. Ren helps Ariel clean herself up before going home, cementing their relationship. That night, a brick with the words “Burn in Hell” is thrown through the window of Ren’s house, causing his uncle to lash out at his outspoken behavior. Ethel reveals that she was fired by her boss because of Ren’s actions, but tells her son to stand up for what he believes is right.

With Ariel’s help, Ren goes before the town council and reads several Bible verses to cite scriptural significance of dancing as a way to rejoice, exercise, and celebrate. Although Shaw is moved, the council votes against Ren’s proposal. Vi is supportive of the movement and explains to Shaw that he cannot be everyone’s father and that he is hardly being a father to Ariel.

Despite further discussion with Ren about his own family losses and Ariel’s opening up about her own past, disclosing that she has had sexual relations, Shaw cannot bring himself to change his stance. The next day, Shaw sees members of his congregation burning library books that they claim are dangerous to the town’s youth. Realizing the situation has gotten out of hand, Shaw stops the book-burning, rebukes the people, and sends them home.

The following Sunday, Shaw asks his congregation to pray for the high school students putting on the prom, which is set up at a grain mill just outside the Bomont town limits. On prom night, Shaw and Vi listen from outside the mill, dancing for the first time in years. Chuck and his friends arrive and attack Willard; Ren arrives in time to even the odds and knocks out Chuck. Ren, Ariel, Willard, and Rusty rejoin the party and happily dance the night away.

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