Footloose

Footloose

Footloose is a 1984 American musical drama film directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), a teenager from Chicago who moves to a small town, where he attempts to overturn the ban on dancing instituted by the efforts of a local minister (John Lithgow).

The film received mixed reviews from the critics but became a box office hit, grossing $80 million in North America, becoming the seventh highest-grossing film of 1984. The film is known for its music, with the songs “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins and “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Plot

Chicago native Ren McCormack and his mother Ethel move to the small town of Beaumont, in rural Southeast Texas, to live with Ren’s aunt and uncle. While attending church, Ren meets Reverend Shaw Moore, his wife Vi, and daughter Ariel. Ariel recklessly endangers her life by rebelling against Shaw’s strict religious nature, greatly annoying her friends and boyfriend Chuck Cranston.

At school, Ren befriends Willard Hewitt, and learns the town council has banned dancing and rock music within the town boundary. He soon begins to fall for Ariel. After he and Chuck insult each other, Ren is challenged to a game of chicken involving tractors, which he wins when his shoelace becomes stuck, preventing him from jumping. Distrusting Ren, Shaw forbids Ariel from seeing him after she shows interest in him.

Wanting to show his friends the joy and freedom of dance, Ren drives Ariel, Willard, and her best friend Rusty to a country bar 100 miles away from Beaumont. Once there, Willard is unable to dance and gets into a jealous fight with a man who dances with Rusty. On the drive home, the gang crosses a bridge where Ariel describes how her older brother died in a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol after a night of dancing. The accident devastated Shaw, prompting him to persuade the town council to enact strict anti-liquor, anti-drug, and anti-dance laws. Ariel begins to defy Shaw’s authority at home. Ren decides to challenge the anti-dancing ordinance so that the high school can hold a senior prom.

Willard is embarrassed at his inability to dance with Rusty, leading Ren to give him private lessons after school hours. Chuck confronts Ariel about her feelings towards Ren behind the bleachers. Provoked by his insults, Ariel throws the first punch, which Chuck retaliates to with a backhand slap, knocking her to the ground. Realizing what he’s done, Chuck begins to remove himself from the situation and get back into his truck; however, Ariel further escalates the situation by getting a pole and starting to smash the lights of Chuck’s pickup. He grabs her to prevent further damage, but she continues to fight – it is only ended by Chuck finally astride her after a scuffle with one final punch, incapacitating her and allowing him to drive away, telling her that he “was through with her anyway”. Ren helps Ariel clean herself up before going home, cementing their relationship. Later that night, a brick with the words “Burn in Hell” is thrown through the window of Ren’s house, causing his uncle to criticise his outspoken behaviour. Ethel reveals that though Ren’s actions cost her her job, he should stand up for what he feels is right.

With Ariel’s help, Ren goes before the town council and reads several Bible verses to cite the scriptural significance of dancing as a way to rejoice, exercise, and celebrate. Although Shaw is moved, the council votes against Ren’s proposal, but Vi, who supports the movement, explains to Shaw that he cannot be everyone’s father and that he is hardly one to Ariel.

Despite further discussion with Ren about his own family losses and Ariel’s opening up about her own past, disclosing that she has had sexual relations, Shaw cannot bring himself to change his stance. The next day, Shaw sees members of his congregation burning library books that they claim endanger the town’s youth. Realizing the situation has become uncontrollable, Shaw stops the book-burners, rebukes them, and sends them home.

The following Sunday, Shaw asks his congregation to pray for the high school students putting on the prom, set up at a grain mill just outside the town limits. On prom night, Shaw and Vi listen from outside the mill, dancing for the first time in years. Chuck and his friends arrive and attack Willard; Ren arrives in time to even the odds and knocks out Chuck. Ren, Ariel, Willard, and Rusty rejoin the party and happily dance the night away.

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