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Roll Bounce

Roll Bounce

Director:Malcolm D. Lee
Cast:Bow Wow, Meagan Good, Chi McBride, Busisiwe Irvin
Release Date:2005
Genre:Teen Flick

By Violet LeVoit | Posted 9/21/2005

It’s a nostalgic humid summer in the late 1970s, and Xavier (Bow Wow) lives for roller disco. His threadbare skates may be ghetto unfab, but he won’t trade them away—they were a present from his deceased mom. When the local South Side rink closes, that means a cross-Chicago bus for X and his buddies to the glitzier North Side rink—where there are white kids and sappier music but also a roller-disco championship with a hefty purse. To win, they’ve got to defeat the reigning champ Sweetness (Wesley Jonathan), an open-shirted stud who prowls the rink floor with unsmiling poise cribbed from chop-socky epics and the Soul Train line. Will X win the championship/ get the girl/ resolve his mom’s death/ figure out the triple lutz? It’s all very bubblegum, but small, well-felt details—such as how the crackle of streetlights turning on signals it’s time to go home, or the anxiety preceding how to ask someone to a “couples skate”—levitate the story a few grade points above the teen-flick usual. (Mad props to the production design team, who capture the sun-faded theatricality of the era with family photo-album accuracy.) Scenes inevitably veer off-direction but always right themselves with the surprise and speed of an upended Weeble. And the roller disco climax is electrifying and fun in a Sonja Henie-meets-Saturday Night Fever way, dazzlingly shot and as uncomplicatedly juicy as Dr. Pepper-flavored lip gloss. If hearing “There’s only one way to resolve this—a roller disco skate-off!” doesn’t fill you with fear and loathing, you’ll enjoy.

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