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Mr McKenzie, I am growing tired of seeing you in the dock, but once again you stand before me accused of a crime against film appreciation. I am beginning to see a pattern in your love of questionable movies from the 1980s. I will now hand over to the prosecution, who will make the opening statements.

Guilty Pleasures: Footloose


Your honour, Footloose is a criminal movie on more than one count. First of all, as I will prove today, it is such a guilty pleasure that every fan of this travesty should be sentenced to a life of shame without chance of parole. Secondly, it is guilty of riding on the coat-tails of Flashdance, which was released one year earlier. All the producers cared about was knocking out a ‘dance movie’ as quickly as they could and the only criteria that led to Kevin Bacon’s casting in the lead role of Ren was that he was considered ‘f**kable’.

The movie has dated horrendously. This is immediately clear from the embarrassing opening credits, where we see set after set of feet clad in shoes (and leg warmers, no less!—see exhibit A) from the 80s. If one were to sit down and actually attempt to endure this relic, they would be in no doubt about the sheer volume of cheese they will be expected to consume in the following 107 minutes. The main problem is that in making a movie that was supposed to be ‘cool’ in the 80s, the producers have created evidence of just how un-cool the era was. The fashions presented to us and the attempts by the actors to dance are the equivalent of catching your parents at it. You know it’s natural to them, but there’s no way you ever needed to see it.

Guilty Pleasures: Footloose
Exhibit A – Kick off your Sunday shoes! Thanks, but I’d rather not.

This may have been the movie that launched Kevin Bacon onto the road to stardom, but for some reason it appears that every attempt to make him look like a red-blooded cool dude has been thwarted. To begin with, it’s difficult to come across as the new James Dean if the chicken race you’re competing in substitutes tractors in the place of stolen cars (exhibit B), and your success is based on the way you tie your shoelaces rather than your heroism. Lori Singer plays the love interest but the relationship Ren shares with Willard (played by a pre-two-for-one-dinners Chris Penn) is unashamedly homoerotic.

Guilty Pleasures: Footloose
Exhibit B – More chug chug than vroom vroom

The emotional climax of their relationship is surely the montage of Ren teaching Willard how to dance (exhibit C), to the tune of ‘Let’s Hear It for the Boy’. I challenge anyone here today to watch this sequence in the light-hearted innocent way it was probably intended in 1984. In this post-modern, post-irony world, it is impossible to watch the sequence without questioning whether you’d prefer to have caught your parents at it than endure another second.

Exhibit C – To hell with the girls, let’s hear it for the boys!