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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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog I discovered that my sins had created a spiritual racket that drowned out the gentle whispers of God to my soul; God had never actually abandoned me, but I needed repentance and sacramental grace to reawaken all that was good and beautiful in me.

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