Footloose (40th Anniversary Edition) (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Footloose is 40 years old?! How has time flown by so fast? I remember being a little kid dancing my head off to the title track and other soundtrack selections.  I was a bit older catching the film for the first time on TBS or TNT with my mother, a huge fan of movies involving dance.  The story at a young age blew my mind, and the nostalgia of revisiting the movie all this time later is always one of joy and good memories.  Read more about this brand new release below and click the cover art at the end to purchase a copy!



City-boy Ren McCormick (Kevin Bacon) is new to an uptight small town where dancing has been banned. Ren quickly makes a new best friend in Willard (Chris Penn) and falls fast for the minister’s daughter (Lori Singer), but his love for music and dancing gets him into hot water equally as fast.

Make no mistake, this is a film of great simplicity.  Characters are not complex, and story transitions can range from fluid to clumsy within moments. Kevin Bacon’s Ren is the kind of guy who attracts trouble simply by being.  When he shows up in rural Bomont, he wants to give off a Bowie aura. His popped collar, tie and jacket make girls swoon and the country boys angry.  His music is too loud, his car is too fast and his “I don’t really give a shit” attitude scream rebel. But Bomont is a church town, and dancing and rock music are banned.  The secret to why is revealed later.

Then there’s Willard (Chris Penn), who goes from fight the new guy to BFF instantly with the saying of a joke.  We can’t forget the minister’s daughter Ariel, whose fire red cowboy boots and loose ways are not on display for everyone, but show she’s got a rebellious edge too.  Of course, beyond the church, the town citizens and the students of the high school who don’t agree with change, Ren has a lot to face up to.  Can he do it and make the town modernize even just to dance?

I absolutely love Footloose. It is made almost like a long form music video.  There is a feeling that scenes were filmed just to put choice soundtrack cues inside the film.  The tractor chase to Bonnie Tyler or Willard learning to dance to Deniece Williams feel natural and are like video vignettes organic to 80’s MTV.  My love for the film does not however put the wool over my eyes — The film is clunky, hammy, and poorly written.  Dean Pitchford, the screenwriter is a lyricist, whose biggest accomplishment up to the filming of Footloose was writing the theme song to Fame. Nostalgia or not, Mr. Pitchford should never have given up his day job.  Kevin Bacon, Chris Penn and Lori Singer, although quite good here are clearly much older than they play, and the tonal shifts can be jarring. To go from joyous dance to a scene of harsh physical abuse is about as messy as you can get.

The music gets it mostly right.  Kenny Loggins delivers two pop gems, while Bonnie Tyler, Ann Wilson, Foreigner, Quiet Riot, Shalamar and others pepper the musical vignettes like a time capsule of the eclectic tastes of that time. Editing is flashy and support performances are also strong.  It’s especially admirable to note the performance of Diane Wiest as Vi, the reverend’s wife. She is in quiet command and wants to see both sides with respect.  She has the most level head in the whole film and is one to watch.


NOTE: Stills are provided for promotional use and are not from the actual 4K disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 2160p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail:  Footloose arrives on the cusp of its 40th anniversary with this generally pleasing 4K disc.  Overall, clarity and detail are finally back to normal, saving us from the boxy pixelated DVD and the embarrassing Blu-ray. With that as a positive, the negative is the absence of consistency. Some shots or scenes look better than others and some look like they are formatted in standard definition.  The biggest offender is when Ren is talking to Willard in the lunchroom. The look is gauzy, soft and pretty much ugly. But the better moments are more abundant, so I can’t say the overall look is a total loss.

Depth: The softness can hinder more distant shots, but depth overall is good overall.  The nuances are evident in the closing scene, along with scenes at the train depot, the feed mill and in daytime scenes involving the town and church.  This isn’t a visual feast anyway, but depth wise, things look just about on par with the varying quality of the transfer overall.

Color Reproduction: The color palette for Footloose is overall bland anyway, so nothing here really pops.  I’d put that in an art direction choice as opposed to a transfer issue though.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones when they aren’t marred by softness look natural, making us forget the DNR hell of the previous Blu-ray.

Noise/Artifacts: Grain varies from scene to scene. For some of us, this is normal, and for others this could be bothersome.


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Mono

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Downgrading from the previous Blu-ray to a 5.1 mix, to my ears there’s not much different here.  Surrounds are used in more ambient ways with a more traditional stereo soundfield presenting naturally.  You can tell the audio hasn’t been remastered as soundtrack cues don’t carry the added bass heft that most remasters do these days, and sound effects are of their 40-year-old vintage too.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: Bass is reserved for music for the most part. A passing train or tractor doesn’t go the extra mile, but it all sounds appropriate for a film with an older soundscape at play.

Surround Sound Presentation: Crowd noise, country ambience and music all utilize the surround channels sparingly but are complementary to the action on screen.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue sounds fine for the duration.  You may have to raise your volume from time to time to get everything loud and clear.


Special Features are all ports from previous releases.  All features are on the accompanying Blu-ray disc. The 2011 Blu-ray features are 1080P, and the DVD aged features are 480P.

Those Features are:

  • Let’s Dance! Kevin Bacon on Footloose
  • From Bomont to the Big Apple: An Interview with Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Remembering Willard
  • Kevin Bacon’s Screen Test
  • Kevin Bacon Costume Montage

Additional Special Features:

  • Commentary by Kevin Bacon
  • Commentary by producer Craig Zadan and writer Dean Pitchford

In addition to the above, the Blu-ray also includes:

  • Footloose:A Modern Musical – Part 1
  • Footloose:A Modern Musical – Part 2
  • Footloose:Songs That Tell A Story
  • Theatrical Trailer

Additionally, Footloose also comes in a Steelbook variant, available simultaneously with this standard edition.


Overall, new viewers going into Footloose 40 years later will either love or loathe the film, but those of us who’ve seen the film know everything there is to know about it.  I’ve been watching it myself for over 30 years.  I know it’s cheeseball and corny, but that for me is a part of the charm.  Kevin Bacon exploded after this, and Sarah Jessica Parker (Here a mere supporting player) became a star too. Herbert Ross went on to direct further wonderful films (Steel Magnolias, My Blue Heaven and the criminally underseen Undercover Blues and Boys on the Side…), but this may well be Ross’s most well-known film.  Who are we kidding? Footloose remains an iconic film, regardless of its many limitations. This new 4K 40th anniversary edition isn’t without its hiccups, but some gripes aside, this is the best way to see the movie, and one fans of the film will hopefully grab up and savor!!

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