Roll Bounce

on September 23, 2005 by Paul Clinton
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"Roll Bounce" is an airy, nostalgic celebration of roller disco; it shouldn't be taken for less even when it fumbles aiming for more. Basking in the same warm lava-lamp glow of "That '70s Show," the film is essentially a coming-of-age story. It's 1975 and, after their local roller rink closes its doors, X (Bow Wow) and his friends must find a new place to skate. So they head to the suburbs, where they take on rival skaters in a skate-off. Part "West Side Story," part "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo," the movie mines jokes from the crew's fast-talking insult-a-thons and sentiment from X's journey to come to grips with mom's death and dad's struggle to find work. X clashes with his dad (Chi McBride) and begins to discover girls -- all de rigeur for this type of story.

With his third film, after "The Best Man" and "Undercover Brother," director Malcolm Lee (cousin of Spike) shows a flair for fluid visual storytelling. And instead of politics as counterpoint to the jokes, he injects just a dab of heart. The story's soundtrack is a backdrop of disco, rock and R&B tracks (Bill Wither's "Lovely Day" is used joyously) that are familiar but sound fresh. "Roll Bounce" also benefits from the comedic talents of Mike Epps and Charlie Murphy, who play trash-talking sanitation workers. Epps and Murphy crackle with a comic chemistry that nearly upstages the movie. Starring Bow Wow, Mike Epps and Meagan Good. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee. Written by Norman Vance Jr. Produced by Robert Teitel and George Tillman Jr. A Fox release. Comedy/Drama. Rated PG-13 for language and some crude humor. Running time: 112 min

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