This is about as 70's as you can get. Disco music, roller skates, feathered hair, skin-tight clothes, Venice Beach, and Linda Blair! On top of all of this, it is directed by Mark Lester (Class of 1984, Stunts), so you know it is going to be entertaining. To be honest, I loved every minute of this flick as it is such a time capsule of the era. Although we have seen a similar structure before, a picture like this is really about having a good time watching it and not trying to analyze it as a piece of art. This movie is built to entertain and it achieves this goal with 104 minutes of dance numbers, likable characters, and a whole bunch of rollerskating action!
Jim Bray stars as Bobby James, a Venice Beach fixture who has aspirations of going to the Olympics for his rollerskating skills. While messing around on the boardwalk one day, Bobby meets a rich girl named Terry (Linda Blair - The Exorcist) whom he sets his sights on. Terry plays hard to get but Bobby keeps pursuing her and begins to give her skating lessons so that she can enter the upcoming roller boogie competition. Everything is going well until the pair overhear an evil real estate developer threatening the owner of the local roller rink with violence if he does not sell the rink to make way for a shopping centre. Bobby and Terry get together with their friends to find a way to save the rink so that the competition can go on as planned.
Although I am not a fan of disco music, I will admit that I enjoy it in the context of a movie like this. The music brings a freedom and innocence to the proceedings and was an integral part of the subculture of the time. There are number of choreographed dance scenes that are a joy to watch including the opening scene on the Venice Beach boardwalk and surrounding areas and a scene in the rink where Earth, Wind & Fire with the Emotions "Boogie Wonderland" is blaring as a number of dancers show off their skills. It is also hard to forget the finale and a solo performance from Bray in the empty rink where he shows off the moves that led to him being the eight-time US rollerskating champion. This scene alone is outstanding and you forget that he is on wheels rather than ice skates. It would be difficult to have a movie featuring an assortment of dance numbers like this with Black Sabbath or The Germs providing the soundtrack as opposed to the boogie beats that dominate the soundtrack and thus they are tolerable in this situation.
The supporting cast all play their parts well and give us both the needed comic relief and required characters to move the plot forward. Terry's mom is played by Beverly Garland who had a long career including some classic genre flicks like The Alligator People and some early Roger Corman efforts including the original Not of This Earth. Terry's dad is played by Roger Perry who I recognized from the Count Yorga movies and "The Facts of Life". Some of the other notable cast members include James Van Patten (Young Warriors) as Bobby's friend who likes to eat and Kimberly Beck (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) as Terry's best friend. The main villain is played by Mark Goddard who starred in "Lost in Space" in the 60's and is also in Blue Sunshine. I am not sure what happened to Jim Bray. He gave up his ability to compete in rollerskating competitions as he lost his amateur status when he took money to make this movie. In an old interview he said he was going to be pursuing a career as an actor including a movie called Parasite (perhaps the Charles Band one?). Unfortunately this career never happened and Bray faded into obscurity with little information available on where he ended up. We can only hope for the best as he was a likable lead and did a decent job after being upgraded from stunt double to leading man after the original actor was let go. The movie was shot by Dean Cundey who horror fans will know was the cinematographer on most of the classic John Carpenter films. Cundey had some help from Texas Chainsaw Massacre cinematographer Daniel Pearl who operated the camera during the roller skating sequences. The dance numbers were choreographed by David Winters who worked with Elvis and Ann Margaret among others and later became a b-movie producer/director whose credits include The Last Horror Film with Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro. (Josh Pasnak, 3/2/12)
Directed By: Mark L. Lester.
Written By: Barry Schneider.
Starring: Jim Bray, Linda Blair, Beverly Garland, Roger Perry.