A few weekends ago, as I tried to ignore the looming deadline of an essay that I had to write but was procrastinating on, I decided to finally watch Footloose. I was no stranger to public perception of the film, namely that it was a terrible movie. And upon watching it, yeah. Objectively, Footloose is kind of a bad movie. However, I have never enjoyed a movie more than this one. The combination of low emotional stakes, a clear misunderstanding of teenagers and how they interact with each other, and dance montages put the 2019 Met Gala to shame, in terms of campiness. (Though anything could put the 2019 Met Gala to shame. Feathers and sequins do not constitute camp, people!)
If you’ve never seen Footloose, let me give you the rundown: the movie stars a young Kevin Bacon, whose character’s name I do not remember and do not care to look up. At the beginning of his senior year of high school, Kevin moves to a small town in Oklahoma. Much to his surprise, however, his hopes of any semblance of fun are crushed when he discovers that the town is pretty strict about what teenagers—or anyone, really—can do. See, the town is dominated by conservative churchgoers, most notably a pastor played by John Lithgow. The group of people highest up in the church are also the ones on city council, and they make all of the rules. One of these rules is one that Kevin’s character can’t seem to stop breaking: no dancing. Because of this, he decides to rebel against the town’s tyranny and leads a crusade to hold a dance for the high schoolers.
The first thing I’d like to note about this movie is that the plot is the most bonkers thing I’ve ever watched in my life, and I loved every second of it. An oppressive town that outlaws dancing is the weirdest social issue you could pick to critique, and yet, I feel like this movie is one of the most progressive things to come out of the Reagan era. (For clarification, this comment is not a compliment to Footloose, but instead a thinly veiled dig at Ronald Reagan.) The funniest thing about the movie to me is the fact that it spends the whole 2 hours dancing around the idea that church overinvolvement in the lives of everyday people leads to negative implications for everyone in and out of the organization, which is the real issue at the heart of the film. They’ll never say this outright, but anyone thinking critically about the film could likely pick this up. Every time you think they’re going to comment about this, they interject a dancing montage to divert your attention, which is quite frankly iconic.
For all my critiques about the film’s ridiculous plot, I will say that I did get pretty invested. The scene where Kevin Bacon teaches his friend to dance to the tune of “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” made me legitimately happy. Not to mention, the soundtrack excuses any narrative issues the film has. So despite its complete 80’s-ness, I must admit that Footloose is probably in my top 3 favorite films list. (This is alongside The Princess Diaries 2 and 10 Things I Hate About You, in case you were wondering.)
— Blake Ciresa