Footloose – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Mark Pacis


Footloose stands as a beacon of the 1980s. Not only is it Peter Quill’s favorite film, but it’s also a film that masterfully blends minimal yet electrifying dance sequences with a fantastic soundtrack. At its core, the movie doesn’t boast an abundance of dance scenes. Still, the dance scenes we do get come with such vigor and precision that they become unforgettable. Kevin Bacon’s moves are not just dance; they are an act of rebellion, a declaration of freedom in a town where so many people have “sticks up their butts.”

Its incredible soundtrack is also integral to the film’s identity, becoming synonymous with the 1980s pop culture landscape. Featuring hits like the titular “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins and “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” by Deniece Williams, the soundtrack complements the film’s energetic dance scenes and elevates them. It’s a collection of songs that captures the spirit of the era and the essence of the film’s themes of liberation and joy.

Beyond the soundtrack, Footloose indulges in the melodrama of teenage angst and rebellion. It’s a film that revels in its excesses, from the anguished cries of misunderstood youth to the almost cartoonish depiction of adult authority figures. Yet, this overindulgence is precisely what makes the movie so endearing. It captures the essence of being young and restless, packaging it in a charming, albeit incredibly cheesy narrative.

However, Footloose is more than just a tale of rebellion and dance. It evolves into a social allegory, warning against the dangers of extremism. The film critiques the rigid constraints imposed by the town’s elders, showcasing the negative repercussions of trying to control people too strictly. Through its narrative, Footloose advocates for a balanced approach to governance and personal freedom, suggesting that too much control can lead to rebellion and chaos.

Overall, Footloose is a captivating mix of dance, teenage drama, and social commentary. While it may not be overflowing with dance sequences, the ones it offers are rousing. Coupled with its portrayal of trashy, cheesy teenage clichés and its exploration of the dangers of extremism, Footloose remains a compelling watch that is as entertaining as it is enlightening.

Movie Review: 3/5 atoms

Footloose - Kevin Bacon, John Lithgow, Frances Lee McCain, and Lori Singer

Footloose hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a native 4K, HEVC / H.265, Dolby Vision/HDR10 presentation with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The Ultra HD release showcases excellent contrast, with deep, rich blacks and bright, vibrant highlights that add depth to every scene. Brightness levels are well-balanced, ensuring that scenes are neither washed out nor overly dark. At the same time, the blacks are deep and consistent, providing a solid foundation for the depth and dimensionality of the image.

The color palette for Footloose isn’t necessarily considered eye-popping by 80s standards. Yet, the colors pop with life, thanks to the enhanced color saturation. Unfortunately, the clarity of details varies, with some scenes displaying enhanced sharpness and texture while others resemble standard definition. The most significant example is Ren being chased into the bathroom and throwing a joint into the toilet. Regardless of these issues, this is the best-looking version of the 80s classic.

Video Review: 4/5 atoms

Footloose - Chris Penn and Kevin Bacon

Footloose hits Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio audio presentation. The Ultra HD release “downgrades” the original 6.1 DTS-HD audio mix to a 5.1 setup. However, right off the bat, with Kenny Loggins’s “Footloose,” the audio mix delivers exceptional clarity and a spacious soundstage. The surround sound channels enrich the music, providing a robust backdrop that enhances the listening experience. The soundtrack maintains this high energy and clarity throughout, making the film’s music a highlight of this release.

Atmospherics, like the sounds of the local arcade, are clear and immersive. Unfortunately, some background effects, like the school cafeteria noise, lack definition. Dialogue, such as John Lithgow’s opening monologue, is crisp and clear, ensuring that every line is understandable and balanced well with the rest of the audio track. Despite the video quality not matching up, the soundtrack alone nearly justifies the purchase, offering a vibrant tribute to the 1980s soundscape.

Audio Review: 4/5 atoms

Footloose - Lori Singer and Kevin Bacon
Special Features

Footloose doesn’t have any bonus features on the Ultra HD disc. However, the following bonus features can be found on the HD Blu-ray disc:

  • Commentary by Craig Zadan and Dean Pitchford
  • Commentary by Kevin Bacon
  • Let’s Dance! Kevin Bacon on Footloose
  • From Bomont to the Big Apple: An Interview with Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Remembering Willard
  • Kevin Bacon’s Screen Test
  • Kevin Bacon Costume Montage
  • 2004 DVD Archive
    • Footloose: A Modern Musical – Part 1
    • Footloose: A Modern Musical – Part 2
    • Footloose: Songs That Tell a Story
    • Theatrical Trailer
Features Assessment

The Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Footloose brings many special features that, while recycled from the previous Blu-ray release, still provide valuable insights into the film’s creation and legacy. Notably, the dual commentary tracks offer a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look. Craig Zadan and Dean Pitchford provide commentary that delves into the film’s production and thematic elements, offering a broad view of its development. Meanwhile, Kevin Bacon’s commentary adds a more intimate layer, sharing anecdotes and reflections from his experience on set.

Let’s Dance, coupled with From Bomont to the Big Apple, provides a nostalgic look back at the making of this 80s classic featuring tales from their time making the film. I’d be happy to help you with that. Regrettably, Chris Penn passed away in 2006. In the 2011 Blu-ray release of FootlooseRemembering Willard has Kevin Bacon and Sarah Jessica Parker reminisce about their relationship with Penn and his character, along with an interview with Chris Penn from 2002. Kevin Bacon’s screen test offers a glimpse into the casting process featuring commentary by Kevin Bacon. The Kevin Bacon Costume Montage adds a visual and historical depth to the release, showcasing the film’s style and the era it encapsulates. 

A Modern Musical is a captivating documentary from the DVD release split into two parts. This featurette offers an engaging look into the film’s creation. Featuring interviews with the cast and crew, it delves into the origins of the script, casting decisions, and the intricacies of the musical and dance numbers, culminating in a discussion of the movie’s enduring popularity and legacy. Lastly, Songs That Tell a Story provides an insightful exploration of the film’s soundtrack, examining the selection of songs, their thematic relevance, and how they enhance the narrative.

Special Features Review: 3/5 atoms

Overall, Footloose remains a spirited testament to the power of dance and music. It’s an enduring classic that continues to resonate with audiences across generations. The Ultra HD audio and video presentations are solid for a 40-year-old film. At the same time, the recycled bonus features are still enjoyable, even though there aren’t any new ones to celebrate the 40th anniversary.

Overall Review: /5 atoms

Footloose hits stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on February 13th.

This Blu-ray was provided by Paramount Home Media Distribution for review purposes.