'Footloose' Turns 30: Its Most Awesome 'Stuck in the '80s' Moments
When "Footloose," the original, Kevin Bacon "Footloose," opened in theaters 30 years ago this month, Barack Obama was writing business newsletters, Brad Pitt was a journalism major and the Apple Mac was three weeks old.
Ah, 1984. So colorful, so bursting with promise, so very, very, long ago.
We took a visit back there recently, and so can you. All you need to do is log onto Netflix — or better, fire up the VCR — and lose your blues, kick off those Sunday shoes and, switching it up here, let "Footloose" be your time machine. Prepare to be amazed at the sights and sounds of an ancient people strutting around to Kenny Loggins like they're all modern and stuff.
Here's our viewer's guide to the most awesome stuck-in-the-'80s moments from the dance-movie favorite:
Right there, in the film's opening, happy-feet montage, someone is wearing nylons. The someone appears to be under the age of 60. We know what you're thinking: What are pantyhose?
2. Regular-old Nikes!
There's a beat-up pair of Nike canvas high-tops in the opening. There are beat-up, low-cut pairs later in the movie. But there aren't Michael Jordan-branded Air Jordan Nikes anywhere because the first models didn't go on sale until 1985.
3. Sarah Jessica Parker as the sidekick!
It's a blast from the actress' "Square Pegs" past as Lori Singer, not the future "Sex and the City" star, turns the head of Bacon's big-city kid Ren.
4. A telephone booth! A boom box! A cassette tape! A video arcade! Tucked-in polo shirts! Feathered bangs! Pat Benatar hair!
About the only 1980s things missing from the big teen hangout scene (at the Hi-Spot diner) about 10 minutes into the movie are a mall and Molly Ringwald. And, just so you know we know, no, it's neither impossible nor implausible to find a modern-day kid giving Zaxxon a go at an arcade. But only an 1980s kid (or an annoyingly ironic adult) would play Zaxxon while in the act of wearing regular-old Nikes.
5. Kenny Loggins is loved without reservation and judgment!
In the Brewster update, the original Loggins-sung title track is the last thing a carload of doomed teenagers hears. In 1984, it is the thing that a school-full of happy teenagers hears again. And again. And again. Blake Shelton country-fied redos are not needed for these aficionados of straight-up pop.
6. The kids are constantly drinking non-diet Cokes; none of them are obese!
Or even slightly overweight. It's weird.
7. Sony Walkman players (and not the MP3 kind)!
The ones with headphones, and, of course, cassette tapes! They are omnipresent, and they are omnipotent — Bacon's literally attached to one in the "Footloose" poster.
8. No clue about its cluelessness.
Singer's Ariel gets a black eye and bloodied face from her ex-boyfriend, and nobody, not her, not her parents, not her new boyfriend, and not a school counselor, apparently, seems aware that she's the victim of teen-dating violence. Nobody seems aware the topic even exists. On the plus side, we suppose, the black eye heals fast — and the Brewer remake, benefitting from years of awareness education, doesn't repeat the same plot mistake.
9. The dancer in the dark!
If you can't always see Bacon's face during the famed "Footloose" angry dance, then that's because you can't always see Jennifer Beals' face during her famed "Flashdance" numbers, either. The box-office success of "Flashdance," released in 1983, begat "Footloose" and emboldened producers, at least for a time, to hire anonymous, shadow-shrouded body doubles for their big musical numbers. (Bacon has recalled being one of five people on set dressed to perform the one-man angry dance.) The 2011 Craig Brewster-directed "Footloose" remake reportedly employed a stunt double for its angry dance, too, but pointedly kept the scene in the daylight.
10. Hair flapping wildly in the wind!
You'll have no luck spotting motorcycle helmets in this movie, which, granted, is odd considering John Lithgow's Rev. Moore is a staunch advocate for youth safety.
11. No hip-hop.
Until now, we have resisted enumerating how the Bacon "Footloose" is dated by what it doesn't have (i.e., smart phones, the Internet, Cronuts). The list could go on and on and on. But at the top of it would be this entry, the one that cannot not be noted: the lack of hip-hop anything. It's a soundtrack that by exclusion relegates the Bacon "Footloose" to another world, another time. Even the 2011 "Footloose," which is set squarely in country-music land, has hip-hop tracks because as a thing of the modern world it can't not have them.
12. "Almost Paradise" is the prom slow dance!
And, once again, we're not talking about one of the muted remakes from the remake. We're talking the Mike Reno and Ann Wilson "Spinal Tap"-11, let-it-all-out original, the one that kept anxiety-filled high-school gyms from falling silent in the 1980s.
13. This is an actual line of dialogue: "Do you like Men at Work?"
Yes, it's a set-up for a gag, straight out of Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?" routine. But it only works as a set-up because 1984 knows the "Down Under" band, and finds it hysterical that Christopher Penn's Willard doesn't. Scientists believe the joke's ability to generate laughter decreased by roughly 10 percent each year from the mid-1980s on, and began producing nothing but puzzled looks by 2001.
Overall, among '80s movies, "Footloose" is hardly the most '80s-est. It benefits from being set in the middle of pop-culture nowhere. Maybe it's its timelessness that makes its pantyhose moments all the more endearing.