FOOTLOOSE KEVIN BACON     Date:

Bust a Move

10 Awesome Dance Aerobics Scenes from ’80s Movies

Catch Footloose during IFC's '80s Weekend July 29-31st.

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Photo Credit: Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

Anyone who grew up in the 1980s remembers Jane Fonda’s workout videos, which featured the Academy Award-winning actress in leotards and leg-warmers leading viewers through a series of aerobic exercises. Coupled with films like Flashdance and Footloose, the Jane Fonda Workout helped usher in a rad aerobics and dance craze that lasted throughout the decade and influenced everything from fashion to music to film. To celebrate IFC’s ’80s Weekend, we decided to share a few of our favorite dance and aerobics scenes from ’80s films. Throw on your favorite leg-warmers and get ready to break a sweat!

1. Flashdance

Paramount Pictures and PolyGram
Paramount Pictures and PolyGram

Has there ever been a better film about a welder-by-day-dancer-by-night? Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) dreams of being a serious dancer at the Pittsburg Dance & Repertory Company, but alas, she has no formal training beyond her frenzied aerobics sessions set to “Maniac” and her job dancing at Mawby’s Bar. Though Flashdance features quite a few seriously impressive dance numbers (“Manhunt” comes to mind thanks to Cynthia Rhodes’ acrobatics and insane amount of body glitter), the best is still Alex’s iconic audition set to Irene Cara’s hit song “Flashdance…What a Feeling” complete with leaps, flips, break dancing (!), and some seriously big hair.


2. Fame

MGM and United Artists

These days, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton cause traffic jams daily on Broadway, but back in 1980, the only performers stopping traffic were the fictional students at the New York High School of Performing Arts. When aspiring composer Bruno refuses to play his music publicly, his taxi driver father blasts it out to everyone on 46th St from the speakers of his cab, causing the leotard-clad students to wildly leap on top of cars and dance throughout the street. Well, that’s ONE way to get people to “remember your name.”


3. Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo

The Cannon Group and TriStar Pictures
The Cannon Group and TriStar Pictures

Possibly the most unnecessary of all unnecessary sequels and the inspiration for an enduring pop culture cliché, Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo may be short on plot and character development, but if you’re watching it for those things, you’re doing it wrong. It’s the dancing and extremely dated hip hop outfits (okay and an appearance by rapper-turned-Law & Order: SVU detective Ice-T) that matter, and in these areas, Breakin’ 2 really delivers.

Whether it’s a gang dance fight with nunchucks (!), popping and locking on the ceiling, or donning berets and harem pants for a celebratory final routine, Breakin’ 2 is actually a pretty solid (dare we say…ELECTRIC?) dance flick in the vein of an overly-long episode of So You Think You Can Dance that is actually supposed to be about saving a community center from bulldozers


4. Perfect

Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

Before there was Tinder, apparently aerobics classes were the way people hooked up in the ’80s, at least according to the plot of the totally inane, guilty pleasure Perfect. While in town working on a story about drug dealers, Rolling Stone journalist Adam (John Travolta) begins investigating the singles’ scene at the L.A. gym where Jessie (Jamie Lee Curtis) is an aerobics instructor. A lot of manic jumping, hip gyrations, and sweaty pelvic thrusts later, is it any wonder Adam and Jessie wind up finding romance? Also, the workout actually ain’t bad either. High-cut leotard is totally optional.


5. White Nights

Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures

If you can look past the implausibility of Gregory Hines’ character willingly defecting to Soviet Russia for tap dancing jobs, White Nights is actually a great dance-thriller, which is a seriously underutilized film genre in our opinion. And because this is the ’80s, the best way for Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s character to distract their Soviet captors is obviously by performing a smooth jazz/karate-inspired dance choreographed by Twyla Tharp. Though ballet superstar Baryshnikov and tap legend Hines couldn’t be more different apart, together they make a pretty dynamic duo. The song may be called “Prove Me Wrong,” but this is one pairing that feels oh-so-right.


6. Footloose

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Yeah, everyone FINALLY “cuts loose” at the end of this classic flick about a town where dancing is banned, but we’re partial to Ren’s angry meltdown in an empty warehouse. When just driving to the middle of nowhere in your yellow VW bug, smoking a cigarette, and drinking don’t calm your adolescent angst, why not just put on a cassette tape and run, swing, jump, kick, and flip your way through a dangerous abandoned warehouse instead? It’s a bit like watching a manic Olympic gymnastics routine, but it’s hard not to love Kevin Bacon giving it his all. (Click here to see all airings of Footloose on IFC.)


7. Dirty Dancing

Lionsgate

Pretty much everyone had the time of their lives watching Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) and Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) dance and romance in the Catskills all through the summer of ’63. In the grand ’80s movie tradition of dancing for your rights (see also: Footloose), Johnny makes a big entrance at the end-of-summer show as a protest for being unfairly fired, pulling Baby firmly out of the corner and onto the floor for a sexy ballroom number complete with that iconic over-the-head lift. The dancing may be “dirty,” but really, it’s just good, clean fun.


8. Girls Just Want to Have Fun

New World Pictures
New World Pictures

Before she was kicking up her heels as Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker was just a Catholic school girl named Janey with a dream of dancing on TV in Chicago. In yet another ’80s movie about dads not being cool with their daughters dancing (ahem, see also Footloose, Dirty Dancing), Janey’s conservative military father forbids her from competing with her dreamy partner Jeff (Lee Montgomery) for a spot on Dance TV. The two compete anyway with a seriously athletic routine full of tumbling, lifts, and spins while Janey’s dad watches backstage and comes to his senses about the whole thing. If only we could say the same thing about everyone’s hilariously bad ’80s outfits.


9. Risky Business

Warner Bros
Warner Bros.

Who hasn’t gotten a little too drunk and danced around their living room in just their underwear? High school senior Joel does just that (and much, MUCH more) during a parent-free weekend at home. With a single iconic slide in socks, tighty-whiteys, a button-down, and Ray-Bans to the opening strains of “Old Time Rock and Roll,” Tom Cruise instantly became a full-fledged movie star and inspired frat boy Halloween costumes for years to come. If the whole “risky business” brothel idea doesn’t work out, maybe Joel has a future in show business instead.


10. Heavenly Bodies

This “dancercize” cult classic was co-produced by Playboy, which explains a lot about the overabundance of exercise and sex scenes and the wooden dialogue. However, the choreography and soundtrack are totally killer, as is lead actress/dancer Cynthia Dale who effortlessly high kicks and jumps her way through every routine. Heavenly Bodies may technically be a B-movie, but its dancers and dance numbers are pretty A-worthy.

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Rocky IV Paulie Robot

Mr. Roboto

5 Reasons Rocky IV Is Too Rotten to Miss

Catch Rocky IV Friday at 8P during IFC's Rotten Fridays.

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Photo Credit: MGM/UA/YouTube

When Rocky IV was released in 1985, the critics were not kind. (While it wasn’t around back then, the film’s 39% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes speaks for itself.) Less of a movie than a jingoistic music video starring a robot and a steroid-addled, monosyllabic Russian baddie, Rocky IV is a far cry from the Italian Stallion’s humble origins.

Still, more than any movie ever made, it exemplifies the whole “so bad its good” genre. This movie was made for us, the great-unwashed masses of the 1980s, who loved the band Survivor and hated those Commie bastards. Before you catch Rocky IV on IFC’s Rotten Fridays, let’s take a look at some moments that make this flick a “too rotten to miss” classic.

5. That Opening Shot

Rocky IV
United Artists

It takes all of 30 seconds for the audience to know they’re in for one ridiculous rollercoaster ride through a Cold War conniption fit of good vs. evil. Gone is the subtle tone and grounded reality of the first Rocky. In its place we see two gloves, one emblazoned with the American flag, the other with the Soviets’, hurtling toward each other. When they collide, sparks fly, and we witness an explosion decades in the making.

In case the symbolism is too subtle for you, director/writer/star Sylvester Stallone is trying to hint that this movie will be the clash of civilizations we’d all been waiting for, but instead of nuclear bombs, a humble palooka from the streets would be duking it out in the ring with the ultimate representation of coldhearted Communism. If it were up to us, this opening shot would’ve won Best Picture all by itself.


4. So Many Montages

Rocky IV has a running time of 91 minutes and 20 seconds. Its eight montages (yes, EIGHT) run a total of 29 minutes and 10 seconds. That is one third of the movie solely dedicated to montages. (Considering Stallone’s contempt for all things Soviet, we have to wonder if he knows it was a dirty Ruskie who invented the montage.)

During one of the many, many montages, director Stallone actually flashes back to a scene that had happened a minute and half prior, creating the impression that he might actually flashback to the montage we were just watching in the same montage. Stallone clearly loves a good montage set to an inspirational ’80s song, and so do we. Which brings us to…


3. A Soundtrack Full of Pumped Up ’80s Jams

Speaking of montages, they are set to the score of some of the cheesiest hits from the mid-’80s. For once, we’re spared tracks from Frank Stallone, with Stallone replacing his rocker brother with synth-y singles from Survivor, John Cafferty and Kenny Loggins. And of course, Robert Tepper, possessor of an ’80s mullet that could topple empires, crooning “No Easy Way Out.” The music in this movie is one step away from being a parody of the music in this movie. If you ever want to know what cocaine can do to the human mind, just listen to this soundtrack.


2. Rocky Ends the Cold War

Rocky IV speech
United Artists

In one of the most misguided, self-congratulatory, and immediately dated moments in cinema history, good ol’ galoot Rocky Balboa single-handedly ended the Cold War four years before the Berlin Wall came down.

To quote the Italian Stallion himself: “In here…there were two guys… killing each other. But I guess that’s better than millions. What I’m trying to say is… if I can change… and you can change…everybody can change!” And just like that the Soviet public, generals and even the Premier himself rose to their feet in applause, realizing what fools they’d been. This guy beat Mr. T for Heaven’s sake. He knows what he’s talking about!


1. Paulie’s Robot

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and really consider this for a moment. Rocky IV has a robot butler in it. A movie franchise that began back in 1976 exploring the gritty reality of a bum fighter trying to prove himself somehow limped along long enough to turn into a weak Short Circuit rip-off in which an alcoholic mooch with a history of domestic abuse now gets his coffee served to him by a robot. A robot that he has programmed with a “sultry” lady voice!

Stallone was inspired to include the real life robot Sico in Rocky IV because of the work it did to help autistic children like his son Seargeoh. That’s all very moving, but doesn’t explain why he decided to write a scene where Paulie dubs poor Sico “the love of my life.” It’s a testament to Rocky IV‘s “too rotten to miss” status that Paulie’s robot girlfriend/personal servant isn’t even the craziest thing that happens to Rock and the gang.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

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Swimming To Cambodia Spalding Gray

Gray's Anatomy

Everything You Need to Know About the Movie That Inspired “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”

Brand new Documentary Now! airs Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom Pictures

This week Documentary Now! spotlights a master monologist with “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything.” Before you tune in at 10P this Wednesday on IFC, check out our guide to Swimming to Cambodia, the 1987 film that captured writer/performer Spalding Gray’s acclaimed one-person show.

Spalding Gray 101

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures

Actor and renowned monologist Spalding Gray spent two years on stage perfecting his Obie Award-winning “Swimming to Cambodia” monologue. In it, Gray tells the story of his eight weeks in Southeast Asia while shooting the 1984 Academy Award-winning movie The Killing Fields. He had a small role, but the experience gave him several anecdotes about hanging out with the film crew and experiencing the local culture, all while searching for “the perfect moment.”

Directed by the Silence of the Lambs Guy

Hannibal Lecter
Orion Pictures/Everett Collection

Acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Demme took Gray’s two-night, four hour performance and crafted it down to 85 minutes. His use of dramatic lighting, stylish camerawork and a score by performance artist Laurie Anderson was praised by critics and earned the film a cult following. No stranger to groundbreaking docs, Demme also directed the 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, which Documentary Now! pays tribute to in this season’s episode “Final Transmission.”

All about the Voices

While it may have been a one-man show, Gray created a repertoire of characters all with distinctive accents. (He portrayed conversations between himself and others just by turning his head.) Our favorite impressions are of his demanding girlfriend Renee and Ivan Strasberg, the South African director of photography on The Killing Fields who, as depicted by Gray, sounds a bit like a Jamaican surfer.

The Original Cranky New Yorker

In one memorable scene, Gray rants about how his noisy upstairs artist neighbors are driving him and Renee crazy. Even in the mid-’80s, there were New Yorkers complaining that the city wasn’t what it used to be.

Show and Tell

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures/YouTube

A big fan of visual aids, Gray used pull-down maps to illustrate his travels. This helped to bring Swimming to Cambodia to life, since he’s basically sitting at a desk the entire time.

Inspired One-Person Shows

Gray’s groundbreaking performances in Swimming and other documentaries like Monster in a Box and the Steven Soderbergh-directed Gray’s Anatomy (about Gray’s struggle with a rare eye condition) paved the way for future one-person shows. (We wouldn’t have everything from Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” to Mike Birbiglia’s “Sleepwalk With Me” without him.) Even Doc Now! star Fred Armisen got into the one-person show act for his recent SNL monologue.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Spalding Gray when “Parker Gail: Location Is Everything” premieres Wednesday, September 28th at 10P on IFC. 

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Rocky IV Stallone Lundgren

Burning Heart

10 Reasons Why Rocky IV Is the Ultimate Rocky Movie

Catch an all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC.

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Photo Credit: United Artists/Everett Collection

Sure, most people love the first Rocky for its heart, gripping boxing scenes and the classic training montage. Or, you might love Creed for being both a return-to-form and a new exploration of the Rocky mythology. Maybe the thrill of seeing Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in the same movie makes Rocky III your top pick. Well, sorry, you’re wrong: Rocky IV is the greatest of all the “Italian Stallion”‘s movies.

Before you watch the all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC (with Rocky IV airing at 8P as part of Rotten Fridays), check out a few reasons to appreciate the fourth installment as the king of the series.

1. The Greatest Opening Ever

How many openings are able to sum up the entire conflict of the film in less than a minute and without a single line of dialogue? And how many of those movies have exploding boxing gloves? Just try to watch the opening sequence above and not be completely psyched for the pumped-up flick to come.


2. Montages!

We all know that the best part of any sports movie is the montage, and Rocky IV doesn’t give you one measly montage. There’s a recap of the previous films montage, a getting to Russia Montage, two training montages and an ending fight montage. That’s five montages! There’s probably a montage of montages snuck in there, too.


3. There’s a Full James Brown Musical Number

This movie is so packed with memorable moments, it’s easy to forget one of the first things that happens in the film: Apollo comes out to fight Drago dressed as a shirtless Uncle Sam, while James Brown and a full band play “Living in America.” To drive home the number’s patriotism, there are dancers in tuxedos and top hats, weird unitards and bowler caps, and bedazzled showgirls with headpieces for miles. Oh, and don’t forget the giant tentacled dragon statue on the stage. This is how every boxing match should start. Heck, this is how we always want to enter a room.


4. The Soundtrack

The Rocky IV soundtrack doesn’t just feature James Brown — it has rock anthems galore, all of which make you immediately want to hit the gym. From “Heart’s on Fire” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band to “Sweetest Victory” by Touch to multiple Survivor jams, you’ll get pumped and stay pumped. Even the instrumental score rocks! Sure, sometimes it sounds like it was made on a kids Casio, but this soundtrack never quits and — to quote Robert Tepper — never takes the easy way out.


5. Abs!

Rocky IV weights

Every Rocky movie shows off Stallone’s incredible physique, but Rocky IV really ups the game. Not only do we get Dolph Lundgren mostly shirtless looking like a man machine, but we get a wide variety of scenes of Stallone doing impossible tasks. Stallone’s crazy dragon fly crunches, aka a thing no human should be able to do, automatically take this movie to the top.


6. Two words: Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago
United Artists

Not only does Rocky IV explore the global conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, but it encapsulates all of our fears of the Cold War in one perfect villain. Ivan Drago only trains with machines and science and looks like he stepped out of an Aryan Nations recruitment poster. He also only responds in short, cold phrases like “If he dies, he dies,” or “I must break you.” There’s never been a villain who we so clearly want to get the crap beat out of than Ivan Drago.


7. Rocky Makes Chores Look Badass

Rocky saw
United Artists

Rocky doesn’t need to be hooked up to machines to become the perfect fighter. All he needs are huge tires and some outdoor chores to do. No one’s ever looked cooler chopping wood and using tractor parts. Half of his training is lifting an old wagon, probably to fix a broken axle. If anything, this film inspires us to take care of that gardening work we’ve been neglecting.


8. Rocky’s Beard

Rocky IV Beard

Stallone’s beard game is truly on point in Rocky IV. And this isn’t some “I forgot to shave, here’s a little stubble” look. No, we get full out, lumberjack-style beard action. Does any other Rocky movie have our hero looking like an old Russian aristocrat? Another point for Rocky IV.


9. There’s a robot!

Again, there’s so much to Rocky IV, you probably forgot about the robot. Well, Rocky has some money now and he’s not going to spend it on frivolous things for himself. He’s going to buy Paulie a robot! The best part of this scene is how truly disturbed Paulie is by this new technology until he gives it a sexy lady voice.


10. Rocky Ends the Cold War

If you’re still not convinced that Rocky IV is the greatest, answer this question: Does any other Rocky movie bring peace between the US and Russia?

By the end of the film, Rocky rises up to beat the seemingly undefeatable Drago. He fights so well, that even the Russians begin to appreciate his skills. Then, instead of using his victory to prove America’s superiority, he gives a rousing speech of “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change!” The whole crowd goes wild, including all of the Russian government, who we assume give up Communism immediately based solely on Rocky’s words. Stallone’s call for international reconciliation through brutal fighting and a variety of montages makes this if not one of the greatest films of all time, certainly the greatest Rocky of them all.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

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