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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Footloose

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service

According to the folks behind yet another Hollywood remake—this one of the 1984 teenage dance movie that made Kevin Bacon a star—it's time once again to "kick off your Sunday shoes" and get "Footloose" (Paramount).

Despite lively direction from Craig Brewer ("Hustle and Flow," "Black Snake Moan") and some spirited toe-tapping dance sequences, "Footloose" retains—and ramps up—the problematic message of the original. Namely, that teenagers must disobey their parents, break all the rules and follow their dreams, no matter the consequences.

It has been three years since a tragic car crash claimed the lives of five high school seniors in the small Southern town of Bomont. The teens had been drinking, doing drugs and engaging in some very dirty dancing.

One victim's father, local Presbyterian minister Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid), spearheads legislation to ban public dancing and "lasciviousness" and impose an 11 p.m. curfew for all under the age of 18. The goal is to counter the "spiritual corruption" stemming from such "lewd behavior."

Sounds perfectly reasonable. But teens will be teens, and Rev. Moore's daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough) supports an underground rebellion, engaging in as much illicit drinking, sexual activity and dancing as possible, all to such inspirational tunes as "Hey Mister, Won't You Sell Me a Fake ID?"

The only thing this movement needs to reach its tipping point is a charismatic leader.

Enter Ren MacCormack (Kenny Wormald), a Yankee from Boston who comes to live with his Bomont cousins after his mother's death. With his styled hair, sunglasses, white T-shirt and perpetual pout, Ren puts on his best James Dean imitation. But this rebel has a cause: to flout Bomont's rules and rally his fellow teens to open defiance.

"We don't have much time left," Ren tells the City Council. "Our job as teens is to live, to play our music, to act like idiots." He uses the Bible to challenge Rev. Moore, noting that David celebrated his love of God by dancing.

"Footloose" works hard to ridicule organized religion, which is portrayed as nothing more than a bunch of restrictive rules. The entire town gangs up on the good clergyman, including his normally supportive wife Vi (Andie MacDowell). Nonetheless, Rev. Moore is a sympathetic figure, saying, "I only want what every parent wants—for my kids to come home safe."

The movie's skewed morality includes a "happy ending" according to its own rules: Parents, leave your kids alone, let them be destructive, trust them to make mistakes—and then (and only then) will they return your love.

The film contains a negative portrayal of religion; acceptance of teenage drinking, drug use, sexual activity and reckless driving; a brutal assault; and a few instances of crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Martyrdom of John the Baptist: The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life? 
<p>This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37). It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.</p> American Catholic Blog Just as my children become members of my family when I bring them into the world, so too our baptism incorporates us into the family of the Church. This supernatural membership prevents us from being orphans who have to fend for themselves in the spiritual wilderness.

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