Thursday, May 10, 2012

"Roller Boogie"(1979)d/Mark L. Lester

An hour and forty-three minutes later, to say that the prodigious section of my blood pump reserved unrequitedly for former child star Linda Blair had just been rigorously tested, would be more of an understatement than the following: Joseph Merrick, or 'The Elephant Man', was a curiously-shaped individual.After having scored nominations for an Academy Award and two Golden Globes(fittingly) for her portrayal of Regan MacNeill in The Exorcist(1973), Blair spent much of the rest of the seventies and early eighties assailing her once promising film career with lunkheaded decisions, bizarre romantic pairings, nude pictorials, and even narcotics possession and distribution charges at the tender age of eighteen,  but some things are just unabridgedly unpardonable, baby.Take this movie, for example.Whenever you see footage of the  boardwalk on Venice Beach, California in a movie or on television, there's a good chance you'll spot one or two jackasses rollerskating by, and much of the reason there aren't more of these goons-on-wheels lies sandwiched between the disco-fueled credits here.Together with Skatetown, U.S.A.(1979), and Xanadu(1980), which featured many of the same rollerskaters as tonight's production, Hollywood moved forward with it's next new craze as the once-popular disco scene had pretty much worn out it's national welcome by decade's end.Packed to the brim with nuthugger shorts, Mork suspenders, satin baseball jackets, and more feathered haircuts than Kristy McNicholl's fourteenth birthday party, Boogie plays like a longer, less likeable Annette Funicello beach movie from the sixties, with less Annette and more gay guys on wheels with their nuts hanging out.
Another ten or fifteen minutes just like this might have made it all worthwhile.
We open with what looks to be the entire population of Venice Beach boogieing about the boardwalk on rollerskates, as we're introduced to Bobby James(Jim Bray), the resident phenom on wheels, as he skates to work with his cartoonish pals, Phones, Hoppy, and Gordo(I'd name the actors here, but you really don't care who they are, trust me).Meanwhile on the other side of the tracks in Beverly Hills, we see Terry Barkley(Linda Blair) , the foxy, young concert flautist, decked out in her foxiest Danskin-wear for a ride to the beach in her convertible 1978 Excalibur Phaeton Series III with her  snobbish top-heavy pal, Lana(Kimberly Beck).Bobby spots Terry and is instantly smitten with the affluent rollerskater, who coldly spurns his romantic advances while hiring him to teach her how to skate well enough for the upcoming "roller boogie" contest.You know, I just bet these two are gonna end up terrific friends who thwart some local mobsters trying to close down the popular disco roller rink that everyone boogies at, just in time for the big contest, which they'll win in the end, despite their grossly different tax brackets.I dunno, call it a hunch.Back at the palatial estate, Mother(Beverly Garland) expresses her wishes that Terry skips the roller boogie contest, accepts the slapstick-heavy courtship of cooch-grabbin' upper-crust twit, Franklin(Christopher S. Nelson), and enrolls in Juilliard."But mother," she pouts, like the lost member of Alvin and the Chipmunks."I'm a musical genius...what a drag!What a bummer!"Mother simply doesn't comprehend how cool it is to rollerskate backwards on the boardwalk in a pair of short shorts that shows off your camel toe with a poor man's teenaged, metrosexual Eric Roberts by your side.Damn you, generation gap!
"But mother, I'm a musical genius...what a drag! What a bummer!"
Terry apologizes for having been a spoiled, manipulative cunt to Bobby over breakfast, cuing a lengthy outdoor montage of the duo refining(perfecting is a strong word when your dance partner keeps busting her ass on the pavement) their routine for the big contest.The club owner, Jammer Delany(Sean McClory), is leaned on to sell his place by unscrupulous businessman, Thatcher(Mark Goddard), who happens to be legally represented by Terry's father(Roger Perry).After Bobby's friends destroy a classical musical recital at the Barkley residence(All you rich fucks into the pool!) and Thatcher's henchmen chase Bobby and Terry all over the city in a thrilling, stunt-filled car v. rollerskate chase(wait, wasn't Terry a novice skater like, a minute ago?Oh, nevermind.) while Bobby's black buddy, Phones, momentarily joins the Hare Krishnas for whatever reason, Bobby finds a drunken Jammer passed out in the dj booth at the club, and decides the best medicine for the stressed-out owner, is an elaborate solo skate routine.Makes perfect sense.Phones records Thatcher threatening Jammer on his tape recorder, negating the roller rink sale, then it's roller-groovy, roller boogie contest time.Terry and Bobby win the trophy afterall, then share a bittersweet goodbye, as she gives him the trophy before setting off  for New York City, while he prepares for the coming Olympics, determined to win a Gold for the U.S. in, ummm, rollerskating, I guess?
I have no idea what the fuck's going on here, nor do I want to.
As the story goes, Canadian actor David Kennedy was replaced as the male lead when his real life romance with Blair fizzled during the production, leading the filmmakers to use a stunt double, amateur rollerskating champ, Jim Bray, instead.Besides the two or three months his Eric Roberts-esque grill was plastered all over candy fap for teenaged girls, like Tiger Beat, upon the film's release, you'll no doubt remember, nothing.Blair allegedly developed bursitis in her hip from all the Danskin-clad ass-busting she did on skates for the production, to which I say, we're still not even, Linda-baby.A sore hip simply doesn't compare to the grotesque imagery depicted on the screen and forever seared into my memory.I just hope you guys appreciate the lengths I go to keep you entertained here at the Wop, and the irreparable damage sitting through crap like this has, no doubt, caused me.Screening this one silently, with some Electric Wizard blaring through your speakers as you ogle the adorable Blair as she rolls groovily through inane dialogue and uninspired love scenes might get you all the way through this one, but I doubt it.One Wop.
Incendiary romance was never like this!Seriously, it never was.

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