Blu-ray
Recommended
3.5 stars
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$24.99
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Overall Grade
3.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
3.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4 Stars
Supplements
2.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Recommended

Footloose

Street Date:
September 27th, 2011
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
October 5th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
1984
Studio:
Paramount
Length:
107 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

For all its mawkish, melodramatic corniness surrounding one teen's fight to lift a ridiculous ban in his small town, 'Footloose' is actually not altogether bad. Much of the storyline and sensationalized situations remain pretty silly and laughable, like Kevin Bacon's outrageously grandiose solo dance number where shadows conveniently obscure his face so we never guess it's actually a stunt double. But when we overlook those things and try to contain the unavoidable snickering, what we find hiding underneath is a genuine, heartfelt plot about kids asking adults to rejoice in life, rather than live in the grim, painful accidents of the past.

So, while the rest of this 1984 teen drama can seem quite silly at times and somewhat dated — thanks in large part, of course, to its specially-designed soundtrack — the film's emotional center thankfully does not feel ham-fisted or awkwardly strained. In fact, director Herbert Ross ('Funny Lady,' 'Steel Magnolias'), working from a script by Dean Pitchford, best known for his songwriting talents, does a fine job delivering the message with ease. The inevitable happy conclusion doesn't just spring out of nowhere, but is the natural result of the events preceding it.

John Lithgow, in one of his best dramatic performances as the religiously stringent Reverend Shaw Moore, is essential for making this work as well as it does. Along with Dianne Wiest as his very quiet wife, he shows he is dealing with a parent's pain of loss and unsure of how to handle it appropriately. He's not a villain or portrayed as someone we'd like to hate. Instead, he's a father slowly realizing his best intentions for protecting children come with negative reactions and consequences, ones that could potentially be more destructive. It's quite engaging seeing him come to that discovery when the community takes his rigid rules to the next logical step.

Bacon's outsider rebel Ren McCormack, of course, plays a part in the reverend's change of heart, stirring up trouble unwittingly by wanting to celebrate his youth. But more importantly, he brings the spirit of individuality, of a desire to freely express one's self without reprisal or shame. Although far too old to play a teenager, Bacon is surprisingly excellent in the role, one which brought his sudden fame and celebrity status despite already garnering a bit of attention for his previous work. When everything else around him seems fairly cliché, Ren stays true in his fight to be an individual and not be punished for the mistakes of the past.

The opening credits are probably one of the most clever and creative sequences in setting the film's overall tone and message. With Kenny Logins's song playing in the background, a couple years before he struck gold again riding into the danger zone, the dancing feet display character and a unique personality in their dress style and rhythmic movement. Once in the movie proper, we see this same uniqueness in the other teens Ren makes friends with. Ariel (Lori Singer), Rusty (Sarah Jessica Parker), Willard (Chris Penn) and Woody (John Loughlin) are all very distinct and different from other teens we've seen in the movies, but they each play a significant role that moves the narrative forward.

Calling 'Footloose' the film that defined a generation, as it is more recently promoted, seems like a bit of a stretch, but the teen musical has definitely grown into a cultural icon of the 1980s, still enjoying immense popularity after 25 years. Part of that, I'm sure, is the nostalgia factor, but the movie is actually well-made with a strong, earnest story at its center, based loosely on the events surrounding the senior high school class of Elmore City, Oklahoma. It has its moments of schmaltzy cheesiness, but overall, 'Footloose' remains an entertaining drama.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

Paramount Home Entertainment brings the 80s favorite 'Footloose' to Blu-ray on a Region Free, BD50 disc, housed inside a blue eco-case with a new cover art design. The package also comes with a theater coupon for the remake which must be activated via the internet. After the Paramount logo screams across the screen, viewers are taken to the main menu with the normal option and music.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Footloose' dances its way unto Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.78:1) that shows a few troubled spots amongst the several other excellent scenes.

Immediately, viewers will quickly take note of the greatly improved resolution levels and the rich, clarity detail throughout most scenes. There are some age-related issues, particularly at nighttime and during poorly-lit sequences, but on the average, the movie looks great compared to its DVD counterpart. The transfer is very well-defined with plenty of sharp, detailed lines in hair, clothing and architecture. Many close-ups reveal terrific textures, and the rust stains on Ren's yellow bug are clear and distinct. Colors are lively and boldly saturated, especially the primaries, but it never feels overly-done or unnatural. Blacks are generally deep and accurate though they tend to overwhelm in several darker segments, obscuring the finer lines within the shadows.

Continuing on the negative side of things, contrast has been slightly boosted and has little effect on the overall picture quality, allowing for excellent, crisp visibility of the distant objects. However, this does end up creating some noticeable ringing in many daylight exteriors and even some interiors. A few segments appear as if the result of some light noise reduction, where facial complexions are a bit too smooth in one scene when compared to another. While most poorly-lit sequences expose a bit of noise, a couple other actually show aliasing and some light moiré effects. There's much to admire in this presentation, but there are some visible artifacts which fans might take note of.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

For the audio, Paramount does a much better job with an exciting and entertaining DTS-HD Master Audio codec which makes great use of the film's musical soundtrack.

Songs fill the front soundstage, providing an expansive image that's wonderfully engaging and welcoming. They also bleed into the back speakers nicely and without distraction, creating an enjoyable environment of 80s pop tunes. Several discrete effects fill in the gaps and extend the soundfield with convincing movement. The rest of the lossless mix continues the show with strong, intelligible dialogue reproduction and lots of activity in the other two channels. Dynamics and acoustics are very distinct and crystal-clear, ensuring that the songs never lose a beat and maintain excellent clarity in the instrumentation. The low-end is also healthy and energetic, giving the songs some crowd-pleasing oomph.

The video may be a bit of hit-and-miss, but the audio doesn't disappoint.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Paramount puts on its dancing shoes by recycling many of the supplements seen on previous DVD releases, but also shows off some fresh moves with a few new pieces which can also be found on its day-and-date DVD counterpart.

  • Audio Commentaries — The first track has producer Craig Zadan and writer Dean Pitchford discussing various aspects of the production, from the writing, music, cast and the creative changes made during the film's making. Much of the conversation is surprisingly fascinating as the two men share anecdotes of the different challenges faced by filmmakers. It's also interesting to hear their amazement at the movie's popularity, then as it is now, and its relatively easy acceptance into the cultural mainstream. Not just for fans, the track is a good listen even for those who only mildly enjoyed the movie as a kid.

    The second audio commentary features the film's star, Kevin Bacon, giving another perspective to the production and the movie in general. Although there a few times of silence spread throughout, Bacon keeps the energy high as he talks extensively about his performance, the dance choreography and the rocking music. Of great interest for fans, of course, are the various behind-the-scenes stories while working on the set and how the cast got along with each other. It's another good track with an open and candid Bacon at the mike.

  • Let's Dance! Kevin Bacon on Footloose (HD, 12 min) — A rather engaging short piece with the star talking extensively about the importance of this role in his career and working on the production as a whole.

  • From Bomont to the Big Apple: An Interview with Sarah Jessica Parker (HD, 8 min) — Similar to the above, the actress reminisces on her role, the events in her life at the time, the character and of working with the cast & crew.

  • Remembering Willard (HD, 6 min) — Along with Chris Penn, who played the Willard character, the piece looks back at Penn, his performance and offers several behind-the-scenes anecdotes.

  • Kevin Bacon's Screen Test (HD, 5 min) — Bacon shares his thoughts on his younger self while testing for the camera.

  • Kevin Bacon Costume Montage (HD, 3 min) — Old and aged footage of the actor testing various costumes and outfits.

  • A Modern Musical (SD, 30 min) — Broken into two segments, this short doc from the previous DVD edition is a rather entertaining look at the making of Footloose. Made up of cast & crew interviews, it covers the usual stuff from the script's origins, casting and obviously, the musical/dance numbers. It all comes to a close with talks about the movie's popularity and lasting legacy. Fans are sure to enjoy this.

  • Songs That Tell a Story (SD, 14 min) — Fairly self-explanatory piece that more closely examines the song selection, themes and the purpose which serves within the narrative. For those who number when the soundtrack was a major hit, this is an amusing piece to enjoy.

  • Trailer (HD) — The original theatrical preview concludes the supplemental collection.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no high-def exclusives.

Final Thoughts

For many, 'Footloose' counts as a classic motion picture about teen angst and rebellion. For others, it's a memorable 80s flick that had everyone putting on their dancing shoes and buying the soundtrack like crazy. For me, the teen drama from director Herbert Ross and film composer/filmmaker Dean Pitchford is a well-made and still entertaining movie displaying the spirit of teendom in a unique and original way, despite some of the silly melodrama. The flick hits the Blu-ray stage with a mostly attractive and good-looking picture quality, but it also shows a few drawbacks. The audio offers a better presentation while the supplements are a mix of recycled and new material. Altogether, it makes a good package worth picking up if you are already a fan, but neophytes ought to give it a rent first.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Dual-Layer Disc
  • Region Free

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Spanish Dolby Digital Mono
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital Mono

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese

Supplements

  • Audio Commentaries
  • Featurettes
  • Trailer

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

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List Price
$24.99
Amazon
$16.99 (32%)
3rd Party
$11.89
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»

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