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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: Footloose - Special Collector's Edition

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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Scott Kimball

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Posted September 27 2004 - 01:28 PM

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Footloose - Special Collector's Edition

Studio: Paramount

Year: 1984

Rated: PG

Length: 107

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, anamorphically enhanced

Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Stereo

English & Spanish subtitles; Closed Captioned in English

Special Features: 2 featurettes, 2 commentaries, theatrical trailers
Release Date: September 28, 2004

City kid “Ren” (Kevin Bacon) moves to a small town where dancing has been outlawed. So what’s a boy to do? Take on the town council and the local preacher, and have the law taken off the books... that’s what.

The story of Footloose isn’t very deep, but the film works on the strength of performances by Kevin Bacon, Christopher Penn and John Lithgow. The real star of the film, however, is the soundtrack. This film spawned several major 80’s hit songs, including: Footloose, Dancing in the Sheets, Let’s Hear it for the Boy, Holding Out for a Hero and Almost Paradise.

You all know the story and the music, and you’ve probably seen the previous DVD release... so how does this Special Collector’s Edition stack up?

Read on...

If I had to pick one word to describe the transfer of this film, it would be: inconsistent. The picture ranges from poor to good, with the average being in the fair to good range.

Grain ranges from mild to heavy. Colors are somewhat red-shifted throughout. In some scenes, the picture is clear and has good contrast. In some others, it is muddy and lower in contrast. Some outdoor low-contrast scenes actually appear to be the result of lens flare in the original filming process.

Black levels are also somewhat inconsistent, and there is a frequent loss of detail in the shadows.

Sharpness is also variable. Some scenes appear soft, while others exhibit reasonably good detail. There is no evidence of sharpening halos.

Variable would be the word, again, as far as dust and scratches go. There are long periods of film that are relatively free of detritus, but there are also scenes that are plagued by it.

This is a somewhat disappointing transfer. At the very least, the print could have benefitted from some digital grading to compensate for the variable contrast and color issues.

It seems that most of the attention for the sound in the film is focused on the music, which sounds very good. There is excellent bass response, good use of the entire front soundfield, and a moderate use of surrounds. The musical aspects do a good job of recreating a theater experience. I’m impressed by the music in this mix.

Outside of the music, the sound is rather subdued for a 5.1 track. Dialog is pinned front and center, for the most part. There are decent directional effects for ambient sounds, but LFE (outside of the music) is a bit light. Its a fine, non-agressive mix.

Special Features

Commentary by Kevin Bacon

This is very much an actor’s commentary. Bacon talks about auditions and screen tests for the part, working with Christopher Penn, Lori Singer, Sarah Jessica Parker, et. al.

Bacon tends to wander off-topic, starting to comment on a specific thing on screen, and then deviating from the topic, getting back “in synch” at certain points. It is somewhat stream-of-consciousness in delivery, which is fine... it is fairly effective, here. Part of the issue is due to the fact that, as Bacon points out during the commentary, he hadn’t seen the film since the 80’s, and was coming in “cold.”

This commentary feels much like Bacon is in the room with you, reminiscing on his work on the film.

Commentary by Producer Craig Zadan and Writer Dean Pitchford
Footloose endured 22 drafts of the screenplay, a change of studio, a change of director, another change of director... The first ten minutes of this commentary is a fascinating look at the politics and blood, sweat and tears that go into producing a simple, low budget film.

The two talk constantly about the experience of the cast and crew, the jeopardy that the production was constantly facing, etc. Occasionally, they talk about the action on the screen, but in the 15 or so minutes that I sampled, this commentary was not exactly pertinent to the action on-screen.

Still, its an interesting look at the studio system of the 1980’s.

Writer Dean Pitchford does take some time to talk about story construction, and filling in the blanks with music.

If you are a fan of this film, this commentary is highly recommended.

Two-part Documentary: Footloose: A Modern Musical
(Approximately 30 minutes, total)
In Part 1, Craig Zadan and Dean Pitchford talk about how Footloose came about... how the story was thought up, written, and the process of getting the film off the ground. Townspeople from the town that inspired Footloose talk about the real case of their town and the prohibition of dancing, and how the law was taken off the books to allow a Senior Prom.

There is a great deal of discussion on the casting of Kevin Bacon as “Ren.” Christopher Penn was cast, and the part was rewritten for him. John Lithgow talks about the difficulty of playing his role without going over the top. I’ve always thought Lithgow’s performance rang very true. Lori Singer talks about understanding her character as soon as she read the part.

Part 2 covers rehearsals and choreography for the film. Christopher Penn talks about almost backing out of the film due to his fear of dancing. The choreographer took extra steps to work with the actors to discover their experience and strength, since none of them were dancers.

Kevin Bacon, Christopher Penn, John Lithgow and Lori Singer talk about their experience with the film, and how it affected their lives and careers.

This featurette takes a laid-back approach, and does a good job examining the evolution of Footloose.

Featurette: Footloose: Songs That Tell a Story
Footloose was groundbreaking in its cross-platform approach. The album boosted the movie ticket sales, which boosted album sales... In the days before MTV was a big thing, this was an innovative approach to filmmaking.

Included are comments from Zadan, Pitchford, Kenny Loggins, Sammy Hagar, Mike Reno and others.

This is an interesting examination of making a different, modern musical - and the blending of the music, lyrics, dialog and visuals in a nontraditional format.

Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts

This Special Collector’s Edition is a mixed bag. A lackluster video transfer of an old looking print combine with a good 5.1 mix of a rousing score. Add in a good commentary by Zadan and Pitchford, another okay commentary with Kevin Bacon, and about 45 minutes of documentary - plus the theatrical trailer, and I still have a hard time recommending this DVD.

The extras are nice enough, and the soundtrack sounds great. If you’ve seen the previous DVD release, I think you’ll know what to expect with the video quality on this one, since it is apparently the same.

I would say if you’re a fan of the film, but didn’t buy the last release, then buy this one. I doubt that Paramount will revisit this title again in the foreseeable future. If you own the previous release, you’ll be double-dipping on the same video quality. If you want an upgrade in sound or you’re itching for the commentaries and featurettes, then go for it... just don’t expect any improvement in the video department.

#2 of 19 ONLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted September 27 2004 - 02:02 PM

I wanted to say that I thought the Zadan/Pitchford commentary is EXCELLENT. I listen to many, many commentaries and this one was really top-notch. They don't pull any punches and waste time on happy talk - it's a warts and all look at the problems they faced...
Colin Jacobson

#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted September 27 2004 - 10:16 PM

While out at Paramount this past week we were
treated to sampling a little bit of Footloose.

Actually, the music sounds un-freaking-believable.
We were all mesmerized by the quality of the remixed
music which emanated from all channels. The quality
of the remix is just a remarkable new awakening.

And here is an interesting piece of information.....

For the very first time on any format, the music is
now synched properly. If I understood this correctly,
the the music has always been a frame out of synch.
Most people would probably never have noticed, but
once you see the opening credits with the dancing feet,
you'll finally realize that the music is perfectly
synchronized with the action on screen.

The only downfall to this release, as Scott has
pointed out, is that there has been no improvement made
to the picture quality. It's the same image quality
that many had complained about upon the DVD's initial

We spoke to Paramount's restorationist Ron Smith who
informed us that the original print was not in great


Ronald J Epstein
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#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Scott Hamilton

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Posted September 27 2004 - 10:40 PM

Thanks for the heads up Ron about the original print. Shame on Paramount for letting this happen to the original print.

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   DavidS


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Posted September 28 2004 - 12:45 AM

Speaking of Pitchford-related movies, when will we ever see 1989's "Sing" on DVD?


#6 of 19 OFFLINE   Andrew Radke

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Posted September 28 2004 - 01:02 AM

I've been looking forward to this release for some time. I can't wait to hear the soundtrack through the surrounds. I haven't seen the previous "Footloose" DVD release, but visually, it sounds pretty disappointing. However, I'll definitely pick this up as it is one of my favorite 80's flicks. Being a special edition and all, it would've been nice to see some music videos as a special feature (a la "Top Gun" and "Dirty Dancing". Oh well.
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#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Deane Johnson

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Posted September 28 2004 - 02:16 AM

So, is it enchanced for 16X9 or not?

#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Paul Arnette

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Posted September 28 2004 - 02:28 AM

It sounds like this is the same transfer as the previous release. Is that correct? Also, is the DD 5.1 the same as the original DVD as well? Thanks.
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The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#9 of 19 ONLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted September 28 2004 - 09:40 AM

Yeah - why wouldn't it be? And the review mentions this anyway...
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#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Deane Johnson

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Posted September 28 2004 - 09:45 AM

It does now, it didn't when I raised the question.

#11 of 19 OFFLINE   ArthurMy


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Posted September 28 2004 - 12:34 PM

Please name the last Paramount release that was shot in 1:85 or scope that was not enhanced for widescreen TVs, Deane.

#12 of 19 OFFLINE   john mcfadden

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Posted September 28 2004 - 06:44 PM

I was going to buy this For $ 9.99 today but i rented the original disc and it looked like s**t and being that the reissue didnt have a remaster , I guess im NOT adding Footloose to my collection ....Beware fans of Top Gun i feel they are gonna run the same story with that one

Footloose had one of the WORST transfers ever ...I thought they would improve with a S.E. ...I was wrong and that is sadPosted Image Posted Image

#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Larry Gardner

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Posted September 29 2004 - 03:59 AM

Ron: When you said that you were told that the original print was not in good shape ... do you mean the original negative or the first print made from the negative. If the latter, why don't studios go to the negative in cases like this?

#14 of 19 OFFLINE   ArthurMy


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Posted September 29 2004 - 12:20 PM

Deane doesn't seem to be able to name the last non-anamorphic Paramount title (of a 1:85 or scope film) - the reason for this is simple: She can't because they haven't done one that I know of for many years.

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   John Stone

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Posted September 29 2004 - 12:47 PM

The last non-anamorphic Paramount title in my collection was released on 8/31/1999 (if I have my dates correct) - Titanic.

I no longer worry about correct aspect ratio and 16x9 enhanced when it comes to Paramount. They are very reliable in that department.

Extra features on many catalog titles is another story... Posted Image

#16 of 19 OFFLINE   WilliamG


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Posted October 02 2004 - 06:17 AM

Ron said:

I've got to whole-heartedly agree here! I held off on the initial release thinking Paramount might re-release this, and while I'm disappointed in the video (from the opening mountain range shot) I'm totally excited about the audio. When Kevin Bacon teaches Chris Penn to dance-at 59:39-and Let's Hear It For The Boy literally KICKS in, I heard a fantastic mix w/the bass drum in and synthesizers in the L/R rears that was awesomePosted Image I've never honestly heard the music sound that good before anywhere. FABULOUS AUDIO MIX Posted Image Posted Image

#17 of 19 OFFLINE   Paul.S



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Posted October 02 2004 - 07:20 AM

Exactly. First time I spun the 2002 release and I saw that jittery, dirty opening shot I thought, "oh sh*t." Very disappointing to hear that the SE is the same transfer. Another disappointing opening moment is the audio upcut as the song "Footloose" begins at the very beginning of the film right after the studio logo disappears. It is on all three tracks (DD, D Surround, French Surround) of the 2002 DVD, perhaps indicating print damage. Has this been corrected on the SE? Also, no mention yet of the EX enhancement referenced on the back cover. Is that a mis-print or is the mix now EX-encoded? -p

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   WilliamG


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Posted October 02 2004 - 12:18 PM

Yes, the disc IS EX-encoded! ...and I feel I need to edit myself here on the earlier post. .. That opening shot is by far the worst shot of the whole movie. Nothing else looks near that dirty. Every else is relatively clear.

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted October 05 2004 - 02:12 AM

I might have to pick this up for the new audio and give my old copy to my ex... Great review!
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