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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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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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