why i love footloose and other 80's movies

I'm sure that you recall that I turned 30 this year. As a thirty-year old I officially get to talk about the good old days and wax nostalgic about Rainbow Brite, She-Ra and Strawberry Shortcake who were totally my idols as a kid. Well, maybe not idols, but I adored them just the same. What I remember most fondly about growing up, however, are the movies. My parents love cinema and I remember going to the movies at least once a week. Depending on where we lived, we might see a current film, one that was months old or a retrospective that was playing. My first significant movie moments occurred during a Disney weekend at the local theater; I was about five. After the lights came up after Snow White, my mother couldn't find me. I was behind the thick red curtains looking for a door backstage. You see, I thought the movies were like a play and that there was someone "playing" Snow White and I wanted to meet her. (I also thought people lived in my radio until I was like seven, so cut me some slack.) My mother tried explaining "it's just a movie," but I did not believe her. I knew it wasn't "real" exactly but did not completely understand. When we returned to watch Pinocchio, I freaked out during the scene where Pinocchio is drinking and playing pool and turns into a donkey. I started screaming, "I'll be good I promise; just don't turn me into a donkey!" The scene is terrifying for a five year old. We left the theater because I was such a state and I was a teenager before I watched Pinocchio again.

I was scared for weeks that if I did something wrong I would become a donkey, like Pinocchio had. Still, when I watch it today, I feel a bit queasy.

If we weren't going to the movies we were renting them. I remember, particularly, the small town video store right off the square where we'd go to select which movies to watch for the weekend. Usually, we picked one and our parents chose one, though typically we'd watch them both together if it was kid-friendly enough. We watched Stand By Me, Footloose, Top Gun, Flashdance , Legal Eagles, The Untouchables,Broadcast News, The Big Chill, Dirty Dancing (though it was a tough sell; my mom only cracked because I was having a sleepover.) We also watched movies like Candleshoe, Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, (lots of Julie Andrews movies).

Watching movies together, as a family, was one of the few times I remember feeling a sense of togetherness with all of them. No matter what was happening in our lives, we always had movie nights where it seemed for 2 hours, everything was going to be okay. We could escape our lives, live vicariously through the flickering images on the screen.

I love movies. I love the whole theater going experience, sitting in a dark room with strangers, experiencing something together. Sometimes, I go to the movies by myself. When I'm the only person in a theater watching a movie, I feel liberated. I also love sharing movies, quoting lines, laughing or crying together in the same parts. I like watching movies with friends, talking afterward about our favorite parts, discussing the acting, the plot, being movie critics. I never gave much thought to why I'm into movies and M is not but I think it must come from the frequency of films in my childhood. My parents made them important and I agreed.

Today, when I watch a movie like Footloose, which I love dearly, I remember my brother and I dancing around to the soundtrack (on record) and making it skip. I remember the first time I saw the film. I remember feeling unsettled because it was about a preacher's daughter and I was a preacher's daughter. I was young, maybe seven or eight, when I saw it and I remember thinking that I would never be like that girl. But eventually, I was. I disappointed my father. I rebelled not against him or his beliefs but against what I thought people expected of me. And when I see the movie now, it is layered with experience. I've lived in those small towns. I've driven to the county line for things I couldn't get in town. I've been a teenager, angry and misunderstood. I've always loved the story and now I understand some of the more poignant moments. Plus, the dancing and the Kenny Loggins music is awesome. There have been rumors for a while of a Footloose remake, well, not exactly a remake. It would be a movie version of the musical Footloose. (Kind of like what happened with Hairspray). Supposedly Zac Efron of High School Musical fame has been slated to take on the role of Ren, which Kevin Bacon performed in the film. If this happens I will not see the film. I do not want a film that somehow has meant so much to me to be bastardized with some tweeny bop star. Besides, there's no way that the cultural significance of the story would carry over. At least not for me.

There's something about movies like Say Anything that work for their cultural moment. I was only 12 when I saw it but I teared up when Lloyd said, "I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen." I mean, how can you not? And Jon Cusack was so perfect the way Kevin Bacon was so perfect for those roles. I can't imagine a re-imagined version. I won't.