Footloose (1984)


Upon its release 40 years ago, Footloose thrilled audiences with its spirited dancing, electrifying soundtrack and inspiring story about a Chicago city-boy, Ren McCormick, who arrives in an uptight small town where dancing has been banned due to its potentially sexual influence on the minds of its teenaged residents. Ren quickly falls for the minister’s daughter, but his love for music and dancing gets him into hot water equally fast, not only with the town leaders but a local hard case with a score to settle.

Being roughly the same age as the actors in the film, I was at a similar stage in my life when Footloose came to theaters. I understood its interpretation of young people trying to find their way in the world while dealing with the complexities of restrictions placed upon them by overbearing adults who seem to have forgotten what it was like to be young.

Watching it today still feels very much as it did the first time I saw it. The script neatly summarizes its characters strengths and weaknesses before leading us to a coming-of-age epilogue that culminates in shared understanding and an enjoyable dance-off that is ultimately gratifying.

The 4K video is a mixed bag that leaves some sequences appearing less visually engaging than others. Upon viewing the opening scenes, the first thing that struck me was that there wasn’t an appreciable uptick in sharpness or resolution when compared to the included HD Blu-ray. Upon closer inspection, I could make out finer details in facial features, clothing and objects within the frame, with occasional improvements in depth during wide-angle shots. In general, the image didn’t make compelling use of interstitial black levels offset by vivid bright elements, although there is little call for this. The result is an unremarkable Ultra HD presentation that falls short of the best we have seen from the format.

The soundtrack won’t knock your socks off, but delivers clear dialogue, effective use of the surround channels for ambient support of the music and low-level bass presence that helps underscore effects. There are a few audibly engaging moments associated with the musical performances that aided in providing that nostalgic feeling.

Bonus material includes two audio commentaries, interviews with Kevin Bacon and Sarah Jessica Parker, screen test footage, production featurettes, and a theatrical trailer. The Blu-ray and digital code finalize the package. A steelbook edition is also available.

Footloose helped define the generation of its era. Unfortunately, its lackluster Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation fails to leave an impression.

STUDIO: Paramount, 1984
HDR FORMAT: Dolby Vision, HDR10
AUDIO FORMAT: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
LENGTH: 107 mins., PG
DIRECTOR: Herbert Ross
STARRING: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow, Dianne Wiest, Chris Penn, Sarah Jessica Parker

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