Thursday, August 9, 2007

Let's hear it for the boy . . .

Footloose was on television last night. My husband and I watched about twenty minutes of it while eating dinner, enough to remind me of why I have viewed the film in its entirety possibly seventy or so times. Footloose is truly a classic. Not only does it star the center of the six degree universe, it also highlights SJP way before her Sex and the City days (and she's cute as anything in Footloose, sassy too), John Lithgow, and Dianne Wiest.

The soundtrack at Footloose is fantastic as well. It's so good that one of my high school friends stole a copy of it from a nine-year old he was babysitting (or, more likely, from that kid's parents) a good eight years after the movie came out. And do you recall "Almost Paradise"? We chose that song for one of our homecoming or prom themes and this was around 1992 or 1993--another testament to the staying power of a film that came out in 1984. Imagine my complete delight when "Holding Out for a Hero" was one of the songs featured in the college aerobics class I took (for fitness not credit) in 1996. And don't try to tell me that you don't start picturing those shoes in your head when your hear "Footloose." And the list goes on and on . . . "The Girl Gets Around." "Dancing in the Sheets." "Hurts so Good." "Never." "I'm Free." Don't try to tell me you're too cool for Kenny Loggins. I'm not too cool for Kenny Loggins. NTB.

And how about the cool names of the film's characters? Shaw, Rusty, Ariel (way before Little Mermaid), and Ren. My mom liked the name Ren so much that I tried to impress her by changing my Cabbage Patch doll's middle name to Ren, quite a tribute.

I think the issues and conflicts at the heart of Footloose still resonate today, especially the generational conflicts and the difficulties parents and teenagers can have in communicating. Maybe it's because the movie lacks the bright colors and obnoxious edge of the late-90's teen movies, but Footloose seems peopled by characters who are just very human, which is why it is much more than teen movie. I'm not sure if kids today have seen Footloose or not, but they should. In a day when fundamentalisms of all kinds abound, there's something to be said for exploring the gap between good intentions and suffocation, between protecting your children and preparing them, and between the letter of the Word and its spirit. Though it fails, Ren's use of the Bible at the town's "official meetin'" remains a lesson in exegesis and rhetoric (probably a stretch, but I still like the scene, cheese and all).

Now, finally, we come to the real reason why I love Footloose. Christopher Penn as Willard. Willard is the country boy with the heart of gold. He is the guy who diplomatically says of Ariel, "I think she's been kissed a lot." He doesn't know what to make of big-city Ren but is willing to go along for the ride. It doesn't get any better than the montage of Willard learning to dance as Denience Williams sings "Let's Hear It for the Boy." I especially love it when he stomps his boots so hard that his house shakes and when he practices his moves with Ren's twelve-year-old cousin. Sure, he promises Rusty he won't fight on prom night, but a guy like Willard will do what he's go to do. Given the choice between Kevin Bacon and Christopher Penn, I'd pick Willard any day. Christopher Penn is no longer with us and in recent years, he was not looking too good. I continued to love him though, for the Willard inside of him. Let's hear it for that boy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"My daddy hates these red boots."

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