Australian Council on Children and the Media

Footloose

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Short takes

Not recommended under 15 (Themes; Violence; sexual references, substance use)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Footloose
  • a review of Footloose completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 6 October 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to themes, sexual references and substance use.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Footloose
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes
Length 113 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Footloose is a remake of the classic 1984 movie starring Kevin Bacon. MTV have put a modern twist on the classic and introduce new upcoming stars as the main characters. It is a teen movie about rebellion and social activism against overprotective parents.

After a tragic car accident kills five teenagers from the small town of Bomont, city officials, headed by the Reverend McCormick (Dennis Quaid) implement new laws to protect their children, including an early curfew, no loud music and a ban on unsupervised dancing.

Ren (Kenny Wormald) moves to Bomont from Boston to live with his aunt and uncle after the death of his mother and finds that the small quiet town takes some getting used to. Ren starts at the local high school where he meets McCormick’s rebellious daughter Ariel (Julianne Hough), the sister of one of the teenagers killed in the accident.

Together with Ariel and other teenagers in the town, Ren begins the life-changing process of challenging the strict rules and urging the adults to allow them to hold a dance.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death of family members: grief and loss; teenage rebellion

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence and injury in this movie including:

  • A car hits a truck head on with five teenagers inside. The truck’s headlights are shown along with the car rolled over with ambulances near by.
  • A female character is pushed onto the ground by a male. She then picks up a pole and begins smashing his cars. He hits her across the face so that she falls to the floor. We see her later with a swollen, bruised eye.
  • A young woman plays ‘chicken’ with the train. She is almost hit by the train before begin tackled out of the way.
  • In a bar, a man punches another man in the face, he is knocked out and lies unconscious on the floor
  • A young woman hits a man over the head with a glass bottle
  • A father slaps his daughter across the face, leaving a red mark.
  • Teenagers fight in a car park. People are punched in the face, a girl is pushed to the ground and mirrors are smashed across heads.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, children in this age group may be scared by a scene in which Ren jumps out from behind his car to scare his young nieces.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Younger children in this age group may also be scared by the above scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the idea of the death of family members and the associated grief.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by the idea of the death of family members and the associated grief.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Sprite
  • Barbie
  • Apple
  • Nascar
  • Oakley

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A reference is made to a character having a ‘threesome’
  • References made to ‘banging’, ‘knocking boots’
  • Comments about ‘wet dreams’ and ‘boobies’ are made
  • A female character is told she is ‘acting like a slut’

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Girls are shown throughout the movie with bare midriffs, short shorts and tops revealing cleavage. Males are shown with bare chests.
  • Dancing scenes show females and males dancing provocatively. Camera shots are close up to both female and male bodies
  • Ariel is pressured to have sex. Chuck tells her to ‘prove’ that she is not a ‘child’
  • A couple are kissing passionately, the man moves his hands up the girls top

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Underage students are seen drinking beer from a keg
  • Beer is shown in clubs and outside bars – high school students are seen drinking beer
  • Characters are inferred to have been smoking marijuana. One man then drives a bus even after someone comments that he has had too much to smoke

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • bull shit
  • arse
  • fags
  • pissheads
  • prick
  • slut
  • son of a bitch

In a nutshell

Footloose is a remake of the classic 1984 movie about a teenage fight against overprotective and unrealistic rules implemented by adults. This version is more sexually provocative and incorporates a wider range of dance styles.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Working to change something that you believe is wrong – Ren fights to overturn the law of no public dancing because he wants to make a difference and feel useful. (This was in the context of him feeling that he was not able to help his dying mother)
  • Dealing with grief and loss – the McCormick family did not have an opportunity to grieve after the death of Bobby. Instead, there was swift action to protect Ariel and the other teenagers in the town by attempting to keep them at home and under surveillance. This impacted greatly on Ariel and began her path of self destruction. Only when Ariel and her father could openly discuss their feelings and fear could they begin to move forward.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Fighting for what is right via non-violent ways of protesting and following legal processes
  • Friendship and working together, supporting each other through grief
  • Families – talking about feelings, fear and worries

Parents may also wish to discuss a number of issues raised by the story, including:

  • underage drinking
  • breaking the law
  • underage sex
  • drug taking
  • domestic violence

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