Footloose - 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayOverview -
Footloose is a memorable 80s flick that had everyone putting on their dancing shoes and buying the soundtrack like crazy! With post-Friday the 13th Kevin Bacon in the lead, this classic is still an entertaining unique and original story about teen angst and rebellion full of spirit, despite some of the silly melodrama. The 80s teen classic struts its stuff on the 4K Ultra HD dancefloor with a splendidly beautiful 4K HDR presentation that's a vast improvement over the previous Blu-ray but ports over the same DTS-HD MA track and the same set of supplements. Celebrating its 40th Anniversary, the UHD edition makes for a Recommended addition to the 4K library.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
For all its mawkish, melodramatic corniness surrounding one teen's fight to lift a ridiculous ban in his small town, Footloose is actually a good movie, if not arguably one of the best teen movies ever. Much of the storyline and sensationalized situations remain pretty silly and laughable, like Kevin Bacon's outrageously grandiose solo dance number where shadows conveniently obscure his face so we never guess it's actually a stunt double. But when we overlook those things and try to contain the unavoidable snickering, what we find hiding underneath is a genuine, heartfelt plot about kids asking adults to rejoice in life rather than live in the grim, painful accidents of the past.
While the rest of this 1984 teen drama can seem quite silly at times and somewhat dated — thanks in large part, of course, to its specially designed soundtrack — the film's emotional center thankfully does not feel ham-fisted or awkwardly strained. In fact, director Herbert Ross (Funny Lady, Steel Magnolias), working from a script by Dean Pitchford, best known for his songwriting talents, does a fine job delivering the central theme with ease. The inevitable happy conclusion doesn't just spring out of nowhere but is the natural result of the events preceding it.
John Lithgow, in one of his best dramatic performances as the religiously stringent Reverend Shaw Moore, is essential for making this work as well as it does. Along with Dianne Wiest as his very quiet, dutiful wife, he shows he is dealing with a parent's pain of loss and unsure of how to handle it appropriately. He's not a villain or portrayed as someone we'd like to hate. Instead, he's a father slowly realizing his best intentions for protecting children come with negative reactions and consequences, ones that could potentially be more destructive. It's quite engaging seeing him come to that discovery when the community takes his rigid rules to the next logical step.
Bacon's outsider rebel Ren McCormack, of course, plays a part in the reverend's change of heart, stirring up trouble unwittingly by wanting to celebrate his youth. But more importantly, he brings the spirit of individuality, of a desire to freely express one's self without reprisal or shame. Although far too old to play a teenager, Bacon is surprisingly excellent in the role, one which brought him sudden fame and celebrity status despite already garnering a bit of attention for his previous work. When everything else around him seems fairly cliché, Ren stays true in his fight to be an individual and not be punished for the mistakes of the past.
The opening credits are probably one of the most clever and creative sequences in setting the film's overall tone and theme. With Kenny Logins's song playing in the background, a couple years before he struck gold again riding into the danger zone, the dancing feet display character and a unique personality in their dress style and rhythmic movement. Once in the movie proper, we see this same uniqueness in the other teens Ren makes friends with. Ariel (Lori Singer), Rusty (Sarah Jessica Parker), Willard (Chris Penn) and Woody (John Loughlin) are all very distinct and different from other teens we've seen in the movies, but they each play a significant role that moves the narrative forward.
Calling Footloose the film that defined a generation, as it is more recently promoted, seems like a bit of a stretch, but the teen musical has definitely grown into a cultural icon of the 1980s, still enjoying immense popularity after thirty years. Part of that, I'm sure, is the nostalgia factor, but the movie is actually well-made with a strong, earnest story at its center, based loosely on the events surrounding the senior high school class of Elmore City, Oklahoma. It has its moments of schmaltzy cheesiness, but overall, Footloose remains an entertaining drama.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Paramount Home Entertainment celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Footloose as a two-disc Ultra HD edition with a flyer for a Digital Copy, giving owners access to a 4K UHD copy with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio. The dual-layered, Region-Free BD66 disc sits opposite a BD50 copy of the movie, and both are housed inside a black, eco-vortex case with a glossy slipcover. At startup, viewers are taken to a static screen with the usual selection along the bottom.
The 80s teen classic struts its stuff on the Ultra HD dancefloor with a splendidly beautiful HEVC H.265 encode that is a leaps and bounds improvement over its Blu-ray predecessor. Awash in a more refined, thin layer of grain, the 4K transfer enjoys a welcomed, often notable uptick in overall definition and clarity, showing cleaner, sharper details throughout, especially outdoor daylight sequences. Naturally, several instances are less-than-satisfying and poorly resolved, but they are due to the age of the source or the result of the photography at the time. However, the overall picture quality looks amazing with many impressive moments boasting vividly brilliant whites, like in the clothing and clouds, and crisp, radiant specular highlights, from the chrome detailing of the cars to the light fixtures and sunlight blazing through windows. Black levels are also richer and inkier throughout, but shadow delineation in a few poorly-lit sequences sadly can fall below average with some of the darkest corners completely engulfing the finer details. Although still somewhat subdued and restrained, which appears to be intentional, the Dolby Vision HDR presentation arrives with fuller, more vibrant primaries, especially the variety of reds, while secondary hues appear more dynamic and spirited. Facial complexions are revealing and appear healthier than its HD SDR counterpart, exposing pores and negligible blemishes in the cast.
Although it has several less-than-satisfying moments and being a product of its time, the 1.85:1 image nonetheless looks fantastic, offering a notable step up from the Blu-ray release. (Dolby Vision HDR Video Rating: 82/100)
The teen favorite dances into 4K home theaters with the same DTS-HD MA dancing shoes as its Blu-ray predecessor, which is not a bad thing, as the codec continues to hold up admirably and lets the film's musical soundtrack really live! Here are my thoughts from that review:
"Songs fill the front soundstage, providing an expansive image that's wonderfully engaging and welcoming. They also bleed into the back speakers nicely and without distraction, creating an enjoyable environment of 80s pop tunes. Several discrete effects fill in the gaps and extend the soundfield with convincing movement. The rest of the lossless mix continues the show with strong, intelligible dialogue reproduction and lots of activity in the other two channels. Dynamics and acoustics are very distinct and crystal-clear, ensuring that the songs never lose a beat and maintain excellent clarity in the instrumentation. The low-end is also healthy and energetic, giving the songs some crowd-pleasing oomph." (Audio Rating: 80/100)
For this UHD edition, Paramount Pictures ports over the same set of supplements as before, and they are all housed on the accompanying Blu-ray disc.
- Audio Commentaries begins with a discussion between producer Craig Zadan and writer Dean Pitchford while the second track features Kevin Bacon sharing various anecdotes and memories.
- Let's Dance! Kevin Bacon on Footloose (HD, 12 min)
- From Bomont to the Big Apple: An Interview with Sarah Jessica Parker (HD, 8 min)
- Remembering Willard (HD, 6 min)
- Kevin Bacon's Screen Test (HD, 5 min)
- Kevin Bacon Costume Montage (HD, 3 min)
- A Modern Musical (SD, 30 min)
- Songs That Tell a Story (SD, 14 min)
- Trailer (HD)
For many, Footloose counts as a classic motion picture about teen angst and rebellion. For others, it's a memorable 80s flick that had everyone putting on their dancing shoes and buying the soundtrack like crazy. For me, the teen drama from director Herbert Ross and film composer/filmmaker Dean Pitchford is a well-made and still entertaining movie displaying the spirit of teendom in a unique and original way, despite some of the silly melodrama. The 80s teen classic struts its stuff on the 4K Ultra HD dancefloor with a splendidly beautiful Dolby Vision HDR presentation that is a leaps-and-bounds improvement over the previous Blu-ray, but Paramount Pictures ports over the same DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack and the same set of supplements as before. Celebrating its 40th Anniversary, the UHD edition nevertheless makes for a Recommended addition to the 4K library.
All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about the gear used for this review.
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