Footloose (1984)

Movie review by
Randy White, Common Sense Media
Footloose (1984) Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
A dated rebellion tale.
  • PG
  • 1984
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 19 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

To keep fighting for what you believe in... or keep dancing for what you believe in.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A girl straddles a moving car and a pickup truck. Two boys play a game of chicken in tractors, but ultimately Ren is a charismatic bad-boy gone good.

Violence

Fisticuffs. One bloody nose and one person knocked out.

Sex

Teens talk about ordering diaphragms through the mail, masturbation, and going all the way. Two teens are seen getting dressed after they've obviously had sex. We see bare male bums in a shower. There are numerous comments about the preacher's daughter's promiscuity.

Language

Fairly mild, including "asses" and "bulls--t." The worst is probably "bitch in heat."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens talk of "sniffing spray starch" as a means of getting high. The cool kids smoke cigarettes, drink, and even use a little pot (though smoking dope is mostly frowned upon).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the music and movement in Footloose will keep preteens entertained, but the sexual material and profanity may be too mature for the youngest. Teens will enjoy the energy of it, but the music is dated and the central conflict (to hold a dance or not) is a bit hard for teens to buy.

Wondering if Footloose (1984) is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRosaelf2006 January 3, 2019

Footloose

Footloose is a good movie and it is only rated PG. This movie was from 1984, most kids should know not to do what they see in tv.
Parent of a 4, 11, 14, and 16-year-old Written bytheprincessmommy October 26, 2012

Disappointed in the Other Reviews Here

I am so disappointed with CS's review as well as the kids' and other parents' reviews of this movie. I definitely should have previewed it mysel... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bySab2006 May 13, 2020

From an 11 year old

I love this movie, top 20 for sure! I really think it should be rated PG-13 because some of the scenes are a little confronting, (like girls being slapped in th... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written by0LolaLove0 February 4, 2020

Well... it was ok.

So, I'm a 13-year-old girl and I thought it was ooookkkk.... but not worth watching again. I could hardly finish it. The music was kind of good but there w... Continue reading

What's the story?

In FOOTLOOSE, Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) moves to a small Iowa town where a fundamentalist preacher (John Lithgow) has banned dancing, rock 'n roll, and immoral books. He chafes at the restrictions and also runs into difficulties with some of the locals who aren't fond of outsiders. But Ren's rebellious streak catches the eye of the preacher's libertine daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer). Frustrated, Ren leads a group of teens across the border for some illicit dancing. Then he petitions the town council for permission to hold a dance, but his impassioned speech falls on deaf ears. Fortunately, the preacher turns the other cheek when his wife (Dianne Wiest) and Ariel tell him he's being a bad father and a poor minister. With the preacher's consent, the dance goes forward, and some local good old boys even learn how to shake it.

Is it any good?

Released at the dawn of the music video age, the movie shows the definite influence of MTV. With extended dance sequences that are only tangentially related to the plot, the movie plays, in parts, like an early rock video. Teens of the 1980s loved Footloose and its music, but today's teens might be bored with the contrived plot, cookie cutter characters, and outdated music.

The love story between the two leads and the preacher's change of heart are unconvincing. But more importantly, why would anybody ban dancing? In this very strange town, drinking and smoking are pretty much ignored, but dancing is definitely a no-no. And the conversion of the preacher is implausible -- a raving tyrant in one scene, he is the voice of reason in another. Poor John Lithgow gives it all he has, but even this fine actor cannot make sense of the character. Kevin Bacon has a lot of fun with his part, but the same cannot be said for Lori Singer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how we stand up for our values. How do the characters stand up for their values in Footloose?

  • What would you have done in Ren's shoes?

  • How do you relate to authority figures similar to the one portrayed by John Lithgow?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love dancing and music

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate