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September 2005
Roll Bounce

By Wilson Morales
Roll Bounce

Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Producers: Robert Teitel & George Tillman Jr.
Screenwriter: Norman Vance Jr.
Cast: Bow Wow, Chi McBride, Mike Epps, Charlie Murphy, Nick Cannon, Khleo Thomas, Jonathan Wesley, Brandon T. Jackson, Meagan Good, Jurnee Smollett, Rick Gonzalez, Marcus T. Paulk




If you were looking for a film where you can go back in time and remember things when you were a kid, here’s a film that will definitely spark interest. Back in the 70s when afros were the hairstyles of the day and disco music ruled, so did roller skating. Folks played skelzee by day and roller skated at night and had lots of fun in doing so. At some point, the skates were hung up in the closet, never to be brought out again. Well, Malcolm D. Lee has put together a heartwarming, funny, and entertaining film in “Roll Bounce”.

Set in Chicago, the film is centered around X (Bow Wow) as he wakes up in the morning and leaves his house to deliver the daily papers around the neighborhood with his walkman around his ear listening to the latest jams. By midday, X and his boys get together to roller skate at their favorite spot. When their spot is closed down, the boys have to go across town and skate at Sweetwater Skating Rink, where they have to deal the guy known as Sweetness (Wesley) who has won most the dance competition there. For X, skating is an escape from reality. His mother died early in life and his dad is unemployed, and the pressure that it takes on him and his family is almost too much for him to take. It also starts to interfere with his love life, as he starts to ignore the girl (Good) who pines for him. When it’s said and done, there’s a skating competition that X wants to compete and make his family proud.

“Roll Bounce” presents a family oriented atmosphere with the father and son relationship, as well as showing the effects of what unemployment can do to a family. McBride is a standout in the film. He saves the films from just being a coming-of-age comedy film. I’m sure there are many men in the past and present who couldn’t face the possibility of telling the family that they didn’t have a job and had to save face. In quest to be taken serious as an actor, Bow Wow does an admirable job as X. Not only does he carry the film on his shoulders, but he displays some dramatic chops such as the scene when he destroys his father’s cat. The scene may have been a bit overdramatic, but the point was made and that was the Bow Wow has grown as an actor. As for laughs, Epps and Murphy almost stole the film with their in and out comedic scenes. After being known as the brother of Eddie for such a long time, Charlie Murphy is starting to come out on his own talent with this film as well as little seen “King’s Ransom”. As for Director Lee, I commend him for taking a chance and finding a story that people of all ages can relate to. Although there are one too many stories that are underdeveloped, his approach on balancing the comedy and drama is treated fairly. The dance-off sequence is almost predictable but it’s fun to see the actors have fun in skating their butts off. If you liked “Saturday Night Fever” or most recently “You Got Serverd”, you’ll like “Roll Bounce”. Far from perfect, as there are several clichés within the film, and some of the characters go undeveloped, but overall, the film offers enough wit and charm that should please all that come to see it.