Although rather charmingly cheesy and dated at this point (dig those shots of tappin' feet behind the credits), "Footloose" still offers a terrific performance from Kevin Bacon and a fairly fun - if familiar - plot. Bacon stars as Ren MacCormack (Kevin Bacon), a kid from Chicago who finds himself stuck out in the middle of nowhere when he has to move to the tiny town of Bomont.
Once firmly stuck in small town life, Ren finds that the town is dominated by Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), who has outlawed activities such as dancing and general fun. Of course, teenagers being teenagers, they still manage to find a way around the adults and do entertaining small-town things, such as...race giant tractors around the local fields. There's also the Reverend's daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer), who - as all Reverend's daughters are in movies - is seeking a little fun, too. With the help of his friend (an early performance from Chris Penn) and some of the other local kids, Ren pushes against the town establishment to change their rules on dancing and get a prom for the town's teens.
The performances pretty much save the day here. Bacon's lively performance really transforms a not particularly well-written character into an enjoyable hero. Lithgow's character changes rather quickly at the end, but he plays the character well, never going as far over-the-top as the character could have been portrayed. Supporting performances from Lori Singer, Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Penn are also quite good.
"Footloose" is working with an old formula, but director Herbert Ross and his cast transform the material into something fresh. While a bit dated in spots at this point, the film still manages to entertain.
VIDEO: "Footloose" is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film's opening scenes reveal a noticable amount of wear and other issues. Although I thought these concerns would clear themselves up further into the movie, they unfortunately never went away completely. Sharpness and detail are only fair, as daylight scenes appear inconsistently defined, while some low-light or dark scenes can look murky.
As for problems with the image quality, the biggest concern is the print used. While some stretches appear crisper than others, the majority of the film shows a fairly considerable legion of specks, dirt, marks and a few other faults. Some specific shots look very worn, but these instances appear momentarily. As for other noticable issues, there's a fair amount of mild edge enhancement present, not to mention some additional artifacts.
Although I doubt this film ever offered a bright, lively color palette, I equally doubt colors looked as muddy and bland as they do here. Flesh tones also appear rather off in several scenes. This isn't a completely terrible presentation, but it's certainly apparent that the film elements need some work. This new transfer appears to be the same as the prior release.
SOUND: While the video quality appeared to be the same, the audio quality seems improved over the prior release. This release boasts a Dolby Digital 5.1-EX soundtrack. Once again, the film's musical score remains the focus, as it gets reinforcement from the surrounds, including the rear back surround. Otherwise, the sound is largely front-focused, with dialogue and the basic sound effects sounding of decent quality.
EXTRAS: The DVD offers two commentaries: one from actor Kevin Bacon and the other from producer Craig Zadan and writer Dean Pitchford. The two audio commentaries are very good, especially the producer/writer track, which offers an extremely interesting look at the journey to get the film made: the studio did not buy into the concept, casting was an issue, the budget was low and the picture was often in danger of being cancelled before it lifted off. Bacon's commentary discusses his casting in the film, his inexperience with dancing and what it was like to work with the rest of the cast. Bacon's comments are interesting and honest, but there are stretches of silence on occasion. Both are entertaining tracks that fans should enjoy.
Besides the two commentaries, we also get the "making of" documentary, "Footloose: A Modern Musical", which is presented in two parts that total a bit less than thirty minutes. Also included is the featurette, "Footloose: Songs That Tell A Story" and the film's theatrical trailer.
Final Thoughts: "Footloose" entertains despite itself; it's a silly, old-fashioned picture that still manages enough energy and catchy tunes to carry it along surprisingly well. Paramount's new Special Edition DVD provides a lot of good supplements and somewhat better audio, but the video quality is still disappointing, as the film continues to look like it needs a bit of restoration work. Still, the price is low and fans should consider picking this one up if they're interested in the supplements.
The Film ***