Genre: Drama, Musical
Directed By: Herbert Ross
Written By: Dean Pitchford
Runtime: 107 minutes
Studio: Paramount Home Video
Moving in from Chicago, newcomer Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) is in shock when he discovers the small Midwestern town he now calls home has made dancing and rock music illegal. As he struggles to fit in, Ren faces an uphill battle to change things. With the help of his new friend, Willard Hewitt (Christopher Penn), and defiant teen Ariel Moore (Lori Singer), he might loosen up this conservative town. But Ariel's influential father, Reverend Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), stands in the way.
The success of this film is quite surprising because it’s quite a cluttered film.
The story isn’t the most wonderful of stories to grace a screen. It’s a bit messy, a bit contrived. If it stuck to one idea and stayed with it, it would work a lot better. But instead it tries to do too much and at the end of the day it’s a little unclear what exactly the film is supposed to be about. It wants to have cool reckless “hip” teenagers, it wants to have some kind of political or moral point of view to get across, and most of all, it wants to be a dance film. It’s ironic because considering the film is notorious for being a dance film, there’s very little dancing actually in it! As well as this, the love story between the two leads and the preacher's change of heart are unconvincing. The latter is too sudden and lacks explanation, rhyme or reason. No consistency; one minute we see him he’s the voice of reason, the next a raving despot. I didn’t like this writing.
Aside from any of this though, one must ask the question – why would somebody ban dancing? This is ludicrous in itself…I guess they needed a starting point from somewhere. Why not ban dancing?! Keep smoking and drinking alive…but god forbid a person should dance.
However, despite all of confusion around the execution, the combination of the actors and the great tunes make it an enjoyable watch. The opening credits are class – very 80s and very cool. You can’t help tap your feet This film boasts an excellent soundtrack. Released at the dawn of the music video age, the movie shows the definite influence of MTV. This timing is probably part of its heightened success. Well, that and the catchy 80s tunes it does include. Plus, the big finale dance scene is pretty cool.
For this, and this alone, I recommend this film. Otherwise it’s fair to say you wouldn’t be missing much by not seeing it. – In my opinion, at least. I know there are other people who love it. I enjoyed the music but I didn’t enjoy the writing.