After watching this film again for the first time in ages, I think the film is more of a warning about the dangers of people who live in small towns. As stated on the cover, Footloose does center on Ren (Kevin Bacon), a big city boy who's forced to move with his mom to a small redneck town. Like any other small town, the locals are a bunch of right wing ultra conservative nut jobs who spend their time burning books and making life unpleasant for the young people. As is usual in any situation where young people are forced into following a stringent moral code, they engage in at risk behavior.
Yep, that's the Pastor's daughter, Ariel, moving from one moving car to another. She's the movie's love interest. Anyways, as the movie gets going, Ren is forced to come to terms with the fact that he lives in a small redneck town. It's rough at first, but both he and the townsfolk start begin to get used to one another. He even makes a friend named Willard (Chris Penn), who's the redneck with a heart of gold.
Willard loves Ren's crazy stories about the big city, and Ren doesn't really have anyone else to talk to, so they get along just fine. Of course, it's not long before Ren turns his attention to Ariel. The only problem is that she has a redneck boyfriend, gunrack on the truck and all.
Because Ariel can't tell the difference between good attention and negative attention, she quickly tries to whore herself out to Ren. But when the redneck boyfriend hears about this, he takes control and challenges Ren to a game of tractor chicken to settle this whole dispute.
Ariel needs a hero. And she thinks she's found that in Ren after he accidentally wins the game of chicken when his shoelace gets wrapped around the tractor, preventing his flight.
We know Ren's not going to take anything from anyone, but the movie really gets going when he introduces dancing to the town's youth. We really hear it for the boys as Ren and Willard go through a drawn out montage in which we literally see Willard transform himself into a dancing machine.
But the town's elders are tightening down. They refuse to allow the young people a prom and they even get rid of all the video games within the town's borders. But things come to a head when the pastor (John Lithgow) comes across the locals having an impromptu book burning. Maybe things have gone a bit too far...
Meanwhile, Ren's made a discovery. There's a prom venue nearby that's technically outside of the town's jurisdiction. They can hold a dance and the city council is powerless to stop them. They laughed at Ren's city ways, they tried to stop him from expressing himself through dancing, but now it's his turn. They're going to have the prom and there's not a thing anyone can do to stop them.
And that's pretty much what happens. After the book burning, the pastor decides that maybe the dance isn't so dangerous. Ren beats up Ariel's old boyfriend, and Ren and Willard get to dance together once again.
So was Footloose a portrayal of the timeless struggle between innocent pleasure and rigid morality? It's tough to say. Certainly dancing can be innocent and pleasurable, but more than that, I think the movie demostrates how our own complacancy leads to genocide. The NAZIs started out just like the townsfolk in this movie. Banning dancing and popular music, burning books, and finally committing wide spread genocide on God's people.
The townsfolk in Footloose had already gone as far as book burning and if it weren't for the Pastor and the persuasive power of 80s dancing, we certainly would have found Ren in a gas chamber by the movie's end.
comments powered by Disqus