Bounce [2000]

Could anything be more charming than a movie about five boys in the 1970s who aspire to nothing more than to be kings of the roller rink floor? Rapper/actor Bow Wow, no longer Li'l, takes a step towards adulthood as X (short for Xavier), a teenager grappling with the loss of his mother and finding his identity on wheels. Though Roll Bounce culminates in a skating contest, the path it takes is loose and rambling--which is its strength. Rather than building inexorably to the big contest, Roll Bounce takes time to explore its world--the camaraderie of X and his pals, the struggles of his father (Chi McBride, I, Robot) to find a job--without wallowing pointlessly in the ephemera of the '70s. The movie saves most of the skating spectacle for the end, but when it comes, it delivers; the characters have dance moves on skates most people couldn't do on their feet. Roll Bounce isn't going to change the history of cinema or is even particularly original, but it is enormously likable and heartfelt. The actors--including Khleo Thomas (Holes), Meagan Good (The Cookout), Nick Cannon (Drumline), Mike Epps (Next Friday), Charlie Murphy (King's Ransom), and Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show)--are clearly enjoying themselves. That, combined with roller-skating razzle-dazzle, makes for a cheerful, infectious movie. --Bret Fetzer

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