Roller Boogie (1979)   2/52/52/52/52/5


Jim Bray and Linda Blair in Roller Boogie (1979)

Boogie Woogie Wonderland

I was young, innocent and at the start of the 80s absolutely loved "Roller Boogie" watching it again and again, dreaming of being able to skate as brilliantly as Bobby James. It is why when having watched "Roller Boogie" again for the first time in going on 25 years I still loved it although now have to admit it is one of the cheesiest movies you will ever watch. In fact if I had never fallen in love with it as a young teen I know that I would be ripping it to shreds now but I can't because being cheesy makes this roller skating movie even more entertaining.

Terry Barkley (Linda Blair) is the musical genius daughter of Beverly Hill elite Roger and Lillian Barkley (Roger Perry & Beverly Garland) but she doesn't feel loved and is why she heads down to Venice Beach to join in with everyone who roller skates. It is whilst skating that she comes across Bobby James (Jim Bray), the most talented skater on the beach and after a few misfires they become an item despite Terry being completely out of Bobby's league. But they have other things to worry about as a businessman is threatening Jammer Delany (Sean McClory) with violence unless he sells them his roller disco "Roller Boogie" and so it is up to Terry, Bobby and their friends to save the disco in time for the big boogie competition.

Jim Bray and Linda Blair in Roller Boogie (1979)

I am sure that synopsis not only sounds cheesy but also cliche because quite frankly that is what "Roller Boogie" is, or at least how it comes across now some 30 plus years after it was releases. To start with we have the classic cliche of love on the wrong side of the tracks where the well off Terry falls for the less than wealthy Bobby. It goes through the paces, some arguments, some romantic scenes on the beach as the sun goes down and plenty of hand in hand skating.

And then we have the equally cliche save the club storyline which every time I see this storyline it reminds me of Cliff Richard's "The Young Ones". Again it is a storyline which goes through the paces as Terry and Bobby get the gang together to try and save Jammer's roller disco and just as it seems there is no hope they discover the critical clue to save it. Both these storylines are cliche and lack depth but whilst weak they are kind of amusing.

Now for a movie which last 103 minutes these two storylines struggle to make up an hour of it which means the rest of the time we have a lot of roller skating. We have people dancing as they all come together whilst skating along Venice Beach, we have some trick skating as they jump trash cans and swerve in and out of coke cans, there is even a skate park trick sequence plus plenty of roller disco dancing inside Jammer's. Now all of this is cheesy especially when we are smacked around the face with 70s fashion, women skating in bikinis, men in tight shorts and add to that plenty of close up shots of wiggling bums as they dance. It is all seriously cheesy but at the same time also impressive when you watch the actual skating skills on show although whilst the stars Linda Blair and Jim Bray do some of their own skating the editing when it switches to the professionals is also a bit cheesy.

Talking of the stars of "Roller Boogie" well it's not good; in fact it is another reason why this ends up one comically cheesy movie with so many scenes of hesitant acting. Having said that the script doesn't do any of the actors any favours and when you have the likes of "why don't we go and find the others and put are heads together" it just adds to the cheese. But whilst none of the performances are good there is something strangely watchable when Linda Blair and Jim Bray share the screen even if all the romantic stuff is peachy clean.

What this all boils down to is that "Roller Boogie" is now a seriously cheesy movie made even cheesier by the fact it is seriously dated. But even so it has become a cheesefest if you watched this as a teen when it first came out it still has something about which is simply fun.


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