Roll Bounce Malcolm D. Lee

Roll Bounce Malcolm D. Lee
It's damning with faint praise to say that this is probably the best roller disco teen comedy possible, but faint praise is praise all the same, as the film manages to rise to the top of its limited form.

Bow Wow assays the role of a lower-middle-class rink rat, circa 1978, whose local roller palace has been unceremoniously shuttered, forcing a move uptown to a more posh locale. He's got the usual wacky friends with the usual wacky insults (and some of the wacky hair) alongside the obligatory beautiful girl he can't approach and the ugly duckling brace-face who blossoms into a bell-bottomed swan.

But though the film follows the pap route to a tee, it does it with conviction and enthusiasm. There's just enough after-school special drama with unemployed widower father Chi McBride to keep things from getting too frivolous and just enough teenage ranking to keep the drama from degenerating into bathos, and while the film isn't exactly brilliant, it's sincere enough to keep you from dismissing it out of hand.

One wishes it didn't degenerate into hottie/not hottie sexism concerning the two female characters, and that it didn't follow exactly the trajectory of something from the year in which it was set. But there are nice supporting turns by various skaters and hangers on, and a general lack of cynicism that's earned instead of imported.

Those who like this sort of adolescent thing will find it the sort of thing they like, and those of us above the age of 15 can rest safe in the knowledge that things could be infinitely worse. Much worse. Are We There Yet? worse. (Fox Searchlight)