Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Film Review: ROLLER BOOGIE (1979, Mark L. Lester)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 103 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Director Mark L. Lester (CLASS OF 1984, FIRESTARTER), Linda Blair (THE EXORCIST, THE EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC), Jim Bray, Beverly Garland, James van Patten.
Tag-lines: "It's love on wheels! "
Best one-liner(s): "So what, I'm a musical genius! Whatta drag! Whatta bummer!" or perhaps "Get the goons with the fruit!"

I just couldn't get on board with ROLLER BOOGIE. It didn't possess the ridiculousness of STAYING ALIVE, the glitter of CAN'T STOP THE MUSIC, or the sheer virtuosity of BREAKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO.

Generally these films are a mix of poorly-acted bad dialogue, intense visual spectacle, and spit-take inducing moves. ROLLER BOOGIE only has the first item on that list. There were no roller skating moves here that caused me to spray Coke II out of my nose all over my Lisa Frank trapper keeper, and that's a bad thing. Basically we got whiny rich chippy Linda Blair and talentless, charmless Jim Bray pussyfooting around a narcissistic, sad sack summer romance with some mediocre skating thrown in for flavor. It wants so desperately to be SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, and, well, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: "I watched John Travolta in PERFECT, I KNEW John Travolta, and, Linda, you are no John Travolta." In fact, she's a younger, untalented, less attractive version of Kathleen Turner.

She sucks. And she's rich and tools around in a Rolls-Royce, so NOT ONLY does she suck, but we also LOATHE her. Jim Bray is a skater evidently training for the Olympics, or so he constantly says. Would that be ICE-skating? One would assume, but though the Olympics are mentioned about 10 times, the word 'ice' is not uttered once. I'm pretty sure you couldn't get a gold medal in Roller Disco, even in '79. Anyway, it all leads up to a dance contest. One of the other pairs of contestants is an actually talented black couple, well-trained and finely costumed. For a brief instant, you think you're in one of those other movies I mentioned. But no. Of course Linda and Jim win, and though in these sorts of films, it's usually a hollow victory with a stacked deck, I don't think, in the course of film history, that the winning of a contest has ever been more feigned, white-bred, and meaningless than it is here.

It, and this whole movie, are like letting the air rush out of a balloon. Pffft.

-Sean Gill

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