Ha ha!

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Friday 6 January 2012

Burl reviews Roller Boogie! (1979)

Hi, it’s Burl here with another review for you! Ha ha, it’s disco time everybody, your big chance to get down and boogie with that little devil-possessed girl Regan, Venice Beach style! On wheels!
Roller Boogie is a feast for the eyes if you like ridiculously short shorts on men, tight Lycra bathing suits on ladies and wheels on everybody’s feet! It apparently takes place in some alternate universe where everybody has a crazed mania for roller skating, and also for suspenders! Was roller skating that big a fad? Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn’t matter, because as long as we have Roller Boogie, we can happily pretend it was!
The movie opens with a great scene where a feather-haired skating champ takes off down the rollerways and starts a giant conga line that snakes its way all around the beach, past couples making l*ve on top of dumpsters and over stacks of trash cans perfect for jumping! Of course there’s a famously clumsy skater who tries to jump the cans too, but he doesn’t get too far with that plan, ha ha! Anyway, it’s a fabulous scene, and if the movie can never quite match it through the rest of its running time, well, you can’t really get too upset! There’s plenty of crazy clothing, short shorts and roller stunts to come!
It seems Linda Blair, playing Terry, is a rich girl and a talented flautist who for reasons of her own has an itch to win the big roller boogie contest! There are forces arrayed against her of course: her pill-munching mother, her cold fish father and of course Franklin, a would-be suitor whose buffoonish behaviour leaves him humiliated by the end of every scene he’s in! Terry escapes their cloying clutches and recruits mushmouthed skating star Bobby James – his name’s not kid, it’s Bobby James, ha ha! – to help her up her roller game! But the very contest itself is in jeopardy after thuggish real estate developers threaten Jammer, the unlikely former roller skating champ and Irish Avery Schrieber who is also owner of the local roller rink and sponsor of the contest! It’s up to Bobby James and his funky pal Phones to save the day, and of course Linda Blair must perfect her roller boogieing techniques!
Ha ha, this is a pretty bad movie, but it can be a  true joy to watch if you’re in the right frame of mind! I might even go so far as to recommend a touch of pot marijuana before embarking on such an endeavour! But, as it is with roller skating, for every up this movie has, there is a down! There’s a maid who seems to have walked right out of the 1940s (or out of Mausoleum!); there are marginal characters, like Phones or the clumsy rollerskater, who should have been given much more screen time; the movie is at least fifteen minutes too long and gets a little boring no matter how much pot marijuana you may have ingested!
But when you get to the scene where Bobby James puts on his signature BJ shirt and does a mournful solo skate around the otherwise empty roller rink to cheer up his despondent pal Jammer, you want to forgive this picture all its failings! It's also nicely shot by the portly cinematographer Dean "The Thing" Cundey! Ha ha, and the ending, which is slightly unexpected, earns it some extra credit too! I give this relic of a delightfully misbegotten past two terrible lead performances, which, to be frank, it already has! Ha ha!

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