Whenever someone ask, "Jason, what are two words that changed your life forever"? I immediately reply with Ren McCormack. Nudging out my first hardcore crushes of Billy Peltzer of GREMLINS and Steff (played by James Spader) in PRETTY IN PINK, Ren did two things that they never could do. Danced like a mutha fucker and wear the hell out of a sweat shirt! My life changed in February of 1984. It was the first time I was allowed to go to the movies by myself and the very first movie I saw all by my lonesome was FOOTLOOSE.
The Saturday afternoon my mom dropped me off at the three o clock show of FOOTLOOSE at Picayune Cinema at the Mississippi Mall, she had no idea when she picked me she would encounter a changed person. As I sat in the dark theater and stared at the visually stunning images that graced the screen, I felt something awaken in my soul. Something that told me that no matter what happens in my life or what trials and tribulations I encounter, I will always DANCE MY ASS OFF!
Things I told my mother on the ride home after FOOTLOOSE. It was really good and I needed to go back and see it the next day, which was a Sunday. If I went to Sunday School (boring!) and Big Church (super boring!) I could go see it. DEAL. What i failed to mention to her was the level of curse words that were in it. Very high on the curse words barometer. Also, the shower scene full of male butts! Not a word was uttered from my lips!
I was immediately drawn the trashiness of the young cast. Everyone looked like someone in my hometown and acted just about the same. The good girls were very good and bad girls were very bad. Just the way I like 'em. Long before The Little Mermaid another Ariel robbed my heart. Portrayed by the immensely talented Lori Singer, fresh off the FAME television series, she played trash to the hilt. Born the daughter of a preacher man, she had only one main objective and that was to raise as much hell as humanly possible. That I like. All the boys were dullsville and the only boy that she could barely tolerate liked to do two things: Drink beer and beat the fuck out of her. A primo catch. After almost killing her friends, her boyfriend, an innocent trucker and herself (to the awesome "Girl Gets Around"), she then goes and lewdly dancing at the drive in to "Dancing In The Streets" while barking at Sarah Jessica Parker (in lovable goof mode here) to get her some french fries. Who wouldn't want to date her?
But something is blowing in the wind. There is a shit storm about to descend on the town that will change everyone's life and the scope of the small hamlet forever. They call him Ren McCormack and he is DONE! Done I tell ya! He doesn't give a flying crap about what people think of him or what they think of his BIG city ways. He has two secret weapons in his arsenal of attack that no one else in the town has. He has his mother, played by Frances Lee McCain. Yes, you read that right! It is GREMLINS MOM!!!!! GIT IT MOM! She is kinda like a weather beaten version of her son. She doesn't like the town that much either and doesn't really agree to their rules and such, but she has lived a hard life and sometimes you just have to sigh and get on with it. She doesn't have the spark of anger her son does, but she understands. And sometimes that is all you need from your mom! DEEP shit!!
He other weapon of choice is his killer style. He never looks bad in ANYTHING. WORK. Cowboy hats, jeans, tux, wife beater, sweat shirt or a tie, he works that shit like he is trying to get some overtime. All the girls immediately fall for him and the boys don't know what to do with him. He seems cool, but also a touch faggy. Not interested in football or racing cars, he finds himself in an unique spot within the high school walls. He is something completely different from anyone at the school, because he is mysterious. And HOT!
Ariel's super charming boyfriend challenges Ren to a chicken race on tractors. I told ya, it was country, yo! But, this is no ordinary townie chicken race on tractors. Nope. This one is set to the pulsing sounds of Bonnie Tyler giving it her all in "Holdin' Out For A Hero". This is definitely one of the more iconic scenes in FOOTLOOSE. It also spawned the beautiful gay tractor that graced the stage in The Brown Derby version of the movie. It's all pretty exciting and sorta sexy and weird. All the kids are so sweaty and horned up from not dancing that they look to other means of releasing that footloose rage. Well, Ren then has a real shitter of a day and drives his Vw bug (my car of choice) to an abandon warehouse/train depot and teaches the children why he is the most footloosing person in town. Ariel lingers in the doorway (how rude!) and watches it all with a great deal of interest. She then stands in front of a train and screams. Damaged goods for sure. But damaged goods with great hair.
Ren has to do it all. He has to teach the students to dance. But not just a little two step. No he has to start from in the inside and work his way out. "Let's Hear For The Boy" forever. He then leads an exodus of the kids to an off limits dance and defies anyone to stop him. His scream of "Let's Dance" is not just a dumb ass movie quote. It is a battle cry. One that was heard through this great nation of ours. For once, all the kids that wanted to dance were told that it was okay. No matter what your religion said or what others would think of you. But you have to start from the inside.
The following string of hits from the soundtrack, which led to weeks of saving up allowance to buy was worth every fucking piece of pine straw I had to rake, toss on a tarp and drag to the front yard ditch for the trash to pick up. Years later, Footloose still guides me through my life. I am always so happy to meet people who loved it as much as I do. Life is hard. It is comforting to know that there are others out there that try to twist their ankle all the way around when the movie anthem comes on. I dreamed that one day I would grow up and be as awesome as Ren McCormack and have just as sweet moves as he did. When I grew up I realized that Ren is actually named Kevin Bacon and he had a dance stunt double. And all I can say is, "Why don't I have a dance stunt double"! AND ABOVE ALL ELSE ALWAYS DANCE YOUR ASS OFF!!!!!!!!!!!