"Roller Boogie," now playing at area theaters, is the sort of movie we should probably burn before it gets into a time capsule and reveals to some future generation the extept to which the 1970s could descend into cultural and artistic barrenness.
It is the second "roller" movie released this year, both apparently attempting to duplicate the success of "Saturday Night Fever," replacing the discotheque setting with a roller-skating rink. "Roller Boogie" continues in the grand tradition of "Beach Blanket Bingo," "Gidget" and other such mindless tripe, except that it isn't even awful enough to be funny.
The star is Linda Blair, who earned early fame as a skilled vomiter in "The Exorcist" when she was but 15. There is nothing wrong with her performance in "Roller Boogie" that the loss of 20 pounds wouldn't cure. It is hard to imagine why she was cast for the part, which requires her to be in scanty skating outfits the entire time. When her co-star and skating partner, Jim Bray, had to hoist her into the air for a dazzling turn, some members of the audience actually groaned.
Bray was cast, evidently, becuase he is a real-life skating star ("Look, he has scabs on his elbow," said one person in the audience and because he is cute.He is a wonderful skater. He is a terrible actor.
The plot -- heh, heh -- has to do with this musical prodigy (Blair) who rebels against her oh-so-tedious affluent life (two Rolls Royces in the garage) by going roller-skating with hoi-polloi.
She is rich enough to drive a turquoise vintage car that has a phone in it, and has her own set of credit cards. Anyway, the plot. These bad guys want to pave over the roller rink and replace it with -- a shopping center. It isn't the environmental blight or economic impact these kids object to -- it's that if the roller rink is closed, they won't be able to have the roller boogie contest!
The ending is of course happy -- except that Thunder Thighs has to go off to the Juilliard School of Music and leave her skating honey behind. Needless to say, this is after the two of them have won the boogie contest, despite the clear superiority of the other skating couples they compete against.
There are two good things in this movie: some of the group roller disco-skating sequences, and the turquoise car. The director of this film, Mark Lester, got his start working on anti-war films and antiestbalishment policial documentaries, according to his official bio. It really makes you wonder.