Sunday, September 11, 2011

Roller Boogie (1979)

The title of this low-budget romantic drama explains its minor curiosity value, since the fad of roller-skating in discos was so purely ’70s that watching a feature-length celebration of the activity is like slipping into a time machine. Having said that, the movie is as interesting as the roller-boogie fad itself, which is to say that after about two minutes of watching attractive young people zip around in polyester and spandex, all curiosity has been satiated. Linda Blair, caught in her awkward transition from juvenile stardom to grown-up roles, stars as Terry, a teen musical prodigy from a wealthy Beverly Hills family who digs slumming with the skaters on the Venice Beach boardwalk. There, she meets gifted skater Bobby (Jim Bray), who becomes her roller-boogie tutor and, later, her wrong-side-of-the-tracks lover. Complicating their lives are the mobsters who want Venice entrepreneur Jammer (Sean McClory) to sell his roller rink so they can redevelop the property. Soon enough, Terry and Bobby become the leaders of a group of kids striving to expose the bad guys and save their favorite hangout. In other words, to call Roller Boogie vapid would be to unfairly raise expectations. Lest we forget, the dude calling the shots on Roller Boogie was none other than cinematic bottom-feeder Mark L. Lester. From start to finish, the acting is as bad as the writing, the picture’s attempts at comic relief are awful, and the roller-boogie sequences drag on forever. It’s also jarring that some of the skating vignettes are highly choreographed, while others are documentary-style montages of kids doin’ their thing on the roller-rink track. Bray, a real-life skating champion, offers impressive athleticism but nothing else, while the nubile Blair fills out her barely-there outfits more ably than she fleshes out her whiny characterization.

Roller Boogie: LAME

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