Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



Oscar Predictions

This is still a work in progress as I migrate from my old platform at Tumblr. For now, you can still access the whole backlog of posts there at

Footloose (1984)

Film #174


A city teenager moves to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace.

Year 1, Day 172

BEFORE: Another day, another double-feature. I continue to add some wiggle-room to the schedule for holiday-related breaks and today begins with the original 1984 Footloose. It may seem counter-intuitive to keep watching musicals when I so openly despise most of them, but I am going into Footloose with an open mind and who knows, I may enjoy it. I have been proven wrong many times before.

AFTER: Well what do you know, I actually enjoyed Footloose. Not only was it not really a musical, but the story was well told.

Yesterday with Pirate Radio the characters did a lot in selling me on the film. With Footloose the characters were the detriment to the film and the story is what entertained. Most of the characters were alright and I had no problems with. Reverend Moore (John Lithgow) had a personality I hated, but that didn’t bother me because he is supposed to be a strict, stubborn, and highly religious man who, much like the old men in Pirate Radio, thought that rock and roll was the work of the devil. However, there were two characters that I really didn’t like and at times made no sense and they are the Reverend’s daughter Ariel (Lori Singer) and wife Vi (Dianne Wiest). The daughter is very rebellious, much like the out-of-town kid Ren (Kevin Bacon), but twice in the film she takes actions that seem too extreme - facing down the oncoming 18-wheeler and the train. Ariel is supposed to be rebellious, not have a death wish. In both of these scenes she completely ignores her friends’ insistence to get out of the way and just stands there as if she’s ready to die. The actions are just not fitting for her character. Her mother on the other hand seems to vanish for most of the film. She is briefly introduced in the beginning when Ren comes to town and then doesn’t show up again until the last act where she’s suddenly playing a big role.

But behind this is a story with many classic themes: the rebellious teenagers, fighting for what you want/what’s right, and love for a central idea - dance. I didn’t know much about Footloose before watching it - just that dance was outlawed in the town - and can’t think of any other films with a similar premise. But watching it had me thinking it was a film I saw before because it has so many recurring themes, not necessarily plot points. Footloose isn’t boring though. It may feel like a film you’ve seen before but there’s still something about it that made it fun to watch.

I am quite surprised with how much I ended up enjoying the 1984 version of Footloose but that doesn’t it make it one of my favorite films. Overall I felt the film was average, succeeding in some areas (the story) and failing in others (the characters) but not extreme in either direction. The question now remains, how good will the 2011 remake, also titled Footloose, compare? Will it be a bad shot-for-shot remake like Bad News Bears or will it try some new things while still paying homage to the original à la the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit.

RATING: 3 out of 5