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Footloose

Ren! What are you doing in that garage? When I walk in there I better find you masturbating, because if you're dancing I swear I'm gonna...


Not to be confused with the webcomic of the same name, Footloose is an 80's "Paramount Musical" about a young man who, after finding himself under the rule of a harsh religious regime, bands together a group of allies to rise up and speak out against the laws that are oppressing their right of expression.

It's also about a school dance.

After his parents' divorce, Ren (Played by Kevin Bacon) moves with his mother from Chicago to a small town in middle America. While he finds many of the town's backwards ways frustrating, there is one inexplicable rule that really catches his attention: Rock Music and Dancing are Illegal. He soon makes it his mission to try and reform the law before senior prom, but Ren faces some stiff adversaries. His main opposition comes in the form of the extremely conservative Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), who is certain that if rock music is allowed in the town, then all the young people will end up pregnant cocaine-addicts.

Obviously.

Regardless, Ren and his new friends -including the beautiful Ariel, who happens to be Reverend Moore's daughter- set out on their quest to give the town's teenagers sex, drugs and rock n' roll.

Well... rock 'n' roll, at least.

Like Ferris Buellers Day Off and The Breakfast Club, Footloose isn't one of those fantastic cinematic experiences you need to see for artistic reasons. It's one of those 1980s film classics that you have to see because it has been referenced time and time again until it has become a cultural icon.

A stage musical was made in 1998. It won two Tony Awards and ran for 709 performances. The film remake was released in October 2011.


Tropes:

  • Angry Dance: To the max in the warehouse.
  • Beta Couple: Rusty (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Willard (Chris Penn).
  • Be Yourself: Don't conform to what your parents want you to be.
  • The Big Guy: Woody. Class 2 with some signs of Class 5: between keeping Chuck's thugs off his smaller friends' backs, he explains to Ren how the town government works in Bomont.
  • Blithe Spirit: Fits Ren like a glove. Or some sort of dance shoe.
  • Book-Burning: Townspeople start doing this, making the reverend realize things had gone too far.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Or to put it another way "The Reverend's Daughter Is A Bit Slutty."
  • Corrupt Hick: Subverted with Reverend Moore, who genuinely thinks he's doing the right thing. He is also willing to listen to Ren's argument, and stops a group of people burning "unseemly" books from the library.
  • Culture Police: The Reverend and the older generations that follow his lead.
  • Dance Party Ending: Of course!
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 Ren: "Hey, I thought this was a party! LET'S DAAAAANCE!!"

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  • Dancing Is Serious Business: You better believe it.
  • Dead Little Sister: It turns out that his son's death is what sent Reverend Shaw on his crusade against dancing and music.
  • Death Seeker: It's heavily implied that Ariel is this as a way of coping with her brother's death.
  • Disobey This Message: In a way.
  • The Eighties
  • Eighties Hair: Oh yeah!
  • Fish Out of Water: Ren
  • Fridge Logic: How come nobody thought to challenge the dancing/music prohibition in court on the grounds of violating the first amendment?
  • Meaningful Name: Ariel. The spirit from The Tempest who longs for freedom. (This was five years before the more readily available use of the name.)
  • Moral Guardians: The Reverend is acting as one of these but ends up being a Culture Cop
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Perhaps part of the reason Reverend Moore was willing to listen to Ren after the book-burning incident: he finally realized that the repressive trends that he'd started and approved of had gone too far.
  • Pet the Dog: The Reverend has several moments to show that he isn't completely close-minded. The most memorable might be when he stopped a group of citizens from burning books.
  • The Power of Rock: Played straight.
  • Playing Gertrude: Dianne Wiest (Ariel's mother Vi) is only 9 years older than Lori Singer (Ariel).
  • Preacher's Kid: Ariel's standing on moving pickup trucks and answering the train is likely far from what her father had in mind for her. To say nothing of Chuck.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: It's based on an actual 80's news story.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: See above.
  • Rule-Abiding Rebel: Ren actually does try to follow the rules most of the time (as restrictive as they may be) but is still labeled a rebel simply because he's from out of town.
  • Shaming the Mob: From Reverend Moore: "Satan is not in these books! He's in here! He's in your hearts. Go on home, all of you. Go and sit in judgment on yourselves."
  • Suspiciously Specific Sermon: Two of them. One early on establishing the town elders' opposition to rock 'n' roll, and the change of heart one near the end of the film.
  • There Is No Higher Court: The Movie would be much less entertaining if it had been about Judicial review though.
  • The Unfair Sex: The audience is supposed to view Chuck negatively for slapping Ariel, despite the fact that she just punched him in the face. Sure Chuck called Ariel a whore, but given that she was practically cheating on him with Ren...
  • Too Dumb to Live: Early on in the movie, Ariel stands in between two trucks as they speed down the highway, one foot inside each window. It's meant to paint her as wild and rebellious but looks more suicidally reckless.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Ren doesn't get told immediately why dancing is outlawed and has to do some asking around to find out. Even then, he doesn't find out until much later that one of the car accident victims was Ariel's older brother.
  • Untrusting Community: The entire town is suspicious of Ren because he's from Chicago. Many locals go out of their way to try to prove that Ren is a troublemaker despite that he has the best of intentions. In the end, he helps the town move on from the past by setting up a dance and convincing the Reverend to lighten up.
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 Ren: It's like something's choking everybody. Only they don't know they're choking.

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The Musical contains examples of:

  • Canon Foreigner: Urleen (friend of Ariel, Rusty and Wendy Jo), Jeter, Garvin, and Bickle (Willard's buddies), Lyle (a second sidekick for Chuck), a couple of named characters at the dance palace, Betty Blast...
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Lampshaded by Ren, when the Reverend comments that he's enforced a curfew for all the teenagers in town, but can't get Ariel to follow it:
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  "Well, you know what they say, it's always the shoemaker's kids that go barefoot."

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