Reviewed by Reed Hubbard
Rating: 10 Beans
t seems that the movie industry just can’t resist making a movie about the latest craze, although such movies invariably stink. Remember "Breakin'," "Rappin'," "The Wizard," or "Lambada: The Forbidden Dance?" Well, "Roller Boogie" fits right in there and follows that tried and true formula: Rich girl meets poor guy who is the best (insert fad)er in town, so they team up for the big (insert fad) contest. The competition is almost called off because of greedy people who want to demolish the contest venue, which is rescued in the nick of time by the couple who, incidentally, win the contest. I’m just waiting for a movie about two people who save the local toy store so they can take the prize for the best beanbag animal collection (working title: Beanie Babies, the Motion Picture).
In "Roller Boogie," Linda Blair plays Terry, a rich, teenage flutist who is headed for Juilliard in the fall, but to heck with that! Terry wants to win the roller disco competition at the local rink. Her snobbish parents do their best Thurston and Lovey Howell impersonation, showing they don’t care a whit about their daughter. I mean, what kind of parents wouldn’t support their child when she tells them she’s going to throw away her talent and education in order to pursue a ten dollar trophy from a skating contest?
Terry’s beastly parents alienate her and force her to run off to the Venice pier where everything with a pulse is on roller skates (the old 2x2 kind…this IS 1979). There she meets Bobby James, the best roller disco dude on the block. She spurns him at first, but they get together and practice for the big boogie contest. Everything’s groovy until some scurrilous developers force Jammer, the rink owner, to sell at gunpoint. When the kids hear about people threatening to kill Jammer and burn down his rink, they’re upset. After all, the contest is off! Just when all seems lost, they discover that one of the gang taped the bad guys’ threats. This leads to a silly chase scene where the kids keep the armed criminals at bay by pelting them with fruit. You know how this movie ends, don’t you?
The threadbare screenplay is held together by tons of roller boogie scenes. Roller boogie on the street, roller boogie on the beach, roller boogie at the rink, all peppered with more butt and groin shots than a softcore Bo Derek movie. Almost everyone in the cast shakes his or her rump into the camera lens. The whole thing is set to a cheesy disco soundtrack that sounds like it was stolen from an episode of "CHiPs." The dialogue is excruciatingly awkward. This is the way thirty-five-year-old screenwriters think teenagers talk - lots of "gimme five"s and leering phrases like, "Man, that chick wants your body bad!" One of the gang, distraught over the cancellation of the roller disco competition, gives away his tape player and becomes a Hare Krishna! His pal laments, "The guy’s never gonna skate or listen to boogie music again!" From what planet did this movie come?
The picture is technically flawed, especially the editing. Some scenes appear to be dubbed by the folks who translated those old Godzilla movies. Objects move about from scene to scene. A man’s white suit is heavily stained by flying watermelon in one scene, is clean the next, and is only slightly stained in the next. If Fisher Price made a toy called, "My First Film Editor," this is what the output would resemble.
The acting is atrocious, and I do mean atrocious. Bobby James is played by an actual late 70s roller skating champion named Jim Bray (in his only acting role). The guy can skate, but so what? One look at the Nancy Kerrigan episode of "Saturday Night Live" or Lynn-Holly Johnson’s performance in "For Your Eyes Only" will tell you why there are very few skater-actors in Hollywood. But Linda Blair is a real actress, or so she thinks. Just because a child gets lucky enough to be cast in a highly successful big budget movie (say, "The Exorcist"), that doesn’t mean he or she is necessarily talented. It generally means that kid "looks right" or "acts right" for the part (e.g. Edward Furlong, Macaulay Culkin, that kid with the glasses in "Jerry Maguire"). Linda never understood this, so she kept on acting, awfully, in grade Z films. You’d think she’d take a hint. The reason she hasn’t been cast in a decent movie in twenty-five years is because she can’t act, and "Roller Boogie" is no exception. Blair delivers her lines with the personality of a mannequin. I liked her snobby parents better. At least they had some life.
"Roller Boogie" was dreadful on all levels, and by the midpoint of the film I was boogied out. The movie just kept on going, though, with people skating and dancing and shaking their booties. As I watched, I started to feel violated, and by the film’s end I understood why. How could I not feel degraded after having numerous asses stuck in my face? For all the bad acting, bad music, bad dancing, and bad dialogue, it was the plethora of hineys that made me realize what was most offensive about my "Roller Boogie" experience.
For an hour and forty-five minutes, I had been cinematically mooned
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