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Film / Roll Bounce

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"Bounce! Rooooooooock, Skate! Rooooooooll, Bounce!"

"X": "...All this fallin' stuff, it's just not cool."
Benard: "Hey, you don't fall... how you gonna know what gettin' up is like?"

Roll Bounce is a 2005 coming of age dramedy set around the urban roller-skating scene of The '70s.

In the summer of 1978, Chicago native Xavier "X" Smith and his friends have one common passion: roller skating. When their usual South Side haunt The Palisades Gardens closes its doors for good, they venture to the upscale Sweetwater Roller Rink on the city's North Side. There, they run afoul of the resident skate crew, the Sweetwater Rollers, and their leader, local lothario Sweetness. At the same time, X and his father Curtis grow more distant from each other, as neither has really gotten over the passing of Kathy, Curtis' wife and the mother of X and his little sister Sonya. Alongside new friend Tori, one-time date Naomi and his loyal crew, X prepares for the upcoming Sweetwater Skate-Off, with a $500 prize and more than one ego on the line.

Staring Bow-Wow, Chi McBride, Jurnee Smollett, Wesley Jonathan, Meagan Good, and featuring Mike Epps, Charlie Murphy and Nick Cannon, the film has mostly positive reviews behind it, although it didn't exactly set the box office on fire. Most of its fans praise the skating talent on display, the feel-good humor, and the groove-heavy soundtrack.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Advertised Extra: Nick Cannon and Mike Epps. Each are only in three scenes. Epps' garbageman Byron is pure comic relief alongside his partner Victor, played by Charlie Murphy, who doesn't even make the theatrical poster. More egregious is Cannon, who's skate rental clerk Benard gets ONE semi-dramatic scene, yet somehow pulls second billing on TWO DIFFERENT DVD COVERS.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: X's younger sister, Sonya.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Played with. Thanks to X botching the triple lutz, Sweetness wins the skate-off. While The Garden Boy's lose out on the trophy and prize money, they have earned quite a bit of respect from the Sweetwater crowd, and even the man himself. Given the flunkies Sweetness surrounds himself with, you could argue it to be a case of Team Rocket Wins.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Tori and Junior from the second they meet. They have The Big Damn Kiss right after X and Naomi do to the surprise of only Tori's mother. For that matter, given the argument they have on first meeting, Vivian and Curtis certainly seem on track for a relationship by movie's end.
  • Beta Couple: Junior and Tori.
  • Brick Joke: Rental clerk Benard giving Naps the wrong size skates. The first time he gives Naps, who wears a 9, a pair of 12's. At first, it looks like he's just being a jackass (not that he isn't.) The next time, he gives the boy a pair of size 15's(!) and he complains, Benard's motive is revealed.
    Naps: "Man, why do you keep doing me like this!?"
    Benard: "Check this out. The ladies 'round here? They like a brother with a big... (glances down) skate."
    Naps: (realizing a bunch of cute girls are checking him out) "You got a size 17 back there, Benard?" (clears throat) "A SIZE 17 THERE, BENARD?"
  • Butt-Monkey: One of the last characters you'd expect, X's father Curtis. He loses his wife, then six months later, his job as an airplane engineer (likely owing to his wife's loss) and begins to drift apart from his son. When he first meets Vivian, she chews him out for the responsible act of driving X, Sonya and Tori to Sweetwater instead of letting them take the bus. He "almost broke (his) neck" after tripping on Boo's skateboard, and is hilariously denied the comfort of Yoo-Hoo. He's forced to sell his beautiful Mustang to make ends meet, and the only job he can find is as a janitor. To top it off, the car he was fixing up, belonging to his late wife, has its glassware smashed out by X, which harshly brings to light how oblivious he's been to his son's pain. Thank God this movie had a happy ending.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: X gives a brutal example when he discovers that Curtis has been unemployed for months and has lied to his kids about going job hunting and even selling his car. When Curtis snarks about how it must be hard work being a teenager, X shoots back "I think you're the last person that should be talking about work. This transitions into an argument that prompts a Genre Savvy Vivian to shake the spot with Sonya in tow. Wise move, because when the topic turns to Kathy, X and Curtis get ruthless, leading X to snap and bust the windows and headlights on her old car with a bat beforebreaking down to the point where Curtis goes from threatening to beat him senseless to offering a tearful hug, which X rejects before running away.
  • The Cameo: Darryl "DMC" McDaniels as Smooth Dee, the DJ of the Gardens. Conversely, DJ Johnny Feel Good is played by none other than Wayne Brady.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: When it comes to X and Naomi's attraction, Everyone Can See It, but X can't get up the nerve to act on it until Act 3.
  • David Versus Goliath: X is not particularly dwarfed by the sinewy Sweetness (except in Afro size, of course,) but their one-on-one duel at the end of the movie very much treats X as the David of the situation.
  • Fanservice: Naomi has her moments, but ironically, as the main love interest and a girl introduced to "Love To Love You Baby" by Donna Summer, is the most modest of the female cast above age 12. Tori is treated as Fan Disservice in-universe, until The Makeover. This is pretty much the sole function of the females in Sweetness' entourage, particularly Tootsie. However, Tori's mother Vivian takes the cake, wearing jean shorts that just barely escape Daisy Dukes territory and a low-cut top with no brassiere to TAKE OUT THE TRASH. Tori herself lampshades this when she meets X:
    X: "I think I seen your mom take out the trash last week."
    Tori: "Mm... Black woman, skintight jeans, wearing a top with no bra on?"
    X: "Uh... look, I don't-"
    Tori: "Yeah, that was her. (laughs) She knows she be workin' it."
  • First Girl Wins: played with in the case of Junior and Tori. They clown each other mercilessly through most of the movie, and he tries to sweet talk Tootsie on their first visit to Sweetwater, but by the time Tori gets The Makeover towards the film's climax, the games between the two all but stop.
    Tori: [seductively] "Spit it out. I know your big ol' rock head has something smart to say."
    Junior: "Actually, I came up here to say that you look really beautiful. I mean, I've never seen you look this way before. I mean it."
    Tori: "Thank you."
    Tori: "Aw, shut up! Uh-uh!"
    Junior: "No, you need to put the braces back on!"
    • There are some who would have assumed X and Tori were going to be paired up since they hit it off so nicely in the beginning of the movie. However, X went out with Naomi before the events of the movie, so that's that. (Besides, the way things progress between Curtis and Vivian would have caused some awkward implications if X and Tori had indeed gotten together.
  • Good Parents: Despite his mistakes, Curtis is a good father towards X and Sonya.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: X is revealed to have one when he gets so pissed off at his father for lying to the point he uses a baseball bat. Seema to run in the family, as X's father has one too.
  • Hidden Depths: Sweetness nods to X in respect after their skate-off, saluting a Worthy Opponent with a "right-on" fist. He even cuts off his crew when they snicker at this, before ceding the floor and giving X his moment in the spotlight. He even skates around a little with Sonya in the end-credits party, suggesting he's not as big a jerk as he lets on. Also, his skating skills seem to be a bit of an Informed Ability for much of the movie, as nothing truly sets him apart from other skaters beyond the attention he gets, but it may simply be that it's been a long time since someone has challenged him like X has, allowing him to coast on his reputation.
  • Ironic Echo: The crew's reaction to Tori upon first meeting her is revulsion at her braces. After they're removed and she gets The Makeover, the entire group is stunned. The common factor?
    Naps: [after the second time] "...Marry me?"
  • Jerkass: Sweetness is revealed to be this later in the film.
  • Kick the Dog: Roy and Troy, Sweetness' mooks, pantsing Junior while he's trying to hit on Tootsie, revealing some feminine-looking purple briefs and getting him laughed out of the building. This arguably counts for the Sweetwater Rollers stealing "Le Freak" for their skate-off music and forcing the Garden Boys to use Naps' suggestion of Kool & The Gang's "Hollywood Swinging." (It's left ambiguous as to whether or not this is a coincidence, but the history between the skate crews and the Rollers' connections suggest it may have been sabotage.
  • Missing Mom: X and Sonya's mother Kathy died roughly a year before the events of the film, and is the source of most of X's issues, ESPECIALLY with Curtis. While X was already nearly grown when she passed, his sister is young enough that she has to ask him what their mother was like.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Two words: SWEEEEEEEETTTT!!! NESSSS!!
  • Ms. Fanservice: Plenty of it. Vivian(Tori’s mom) Naomi, Sweetness’ groupies, and even Tori at the end.
  • Nice Guy: Despite his temper, X is a pretty nice guy.
  • Recurring Extra: Mervin seems like one at first, constantly trying figure skating maneuvers that get him teased or puzzled over by the main cast. However, his determination gives X the inspiration to try the triple lutz at the skate-off. He doesn't pull it off, but his daring wins the respect of everyone at Sweetwater.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: When X tries to apologize for snapping on Naomi, she flips out on him, driving him to do this out of what seems to be a mix of desperation and arousal. She ducks back into the house flabbergasted. However, she uses the same move on him when he tries to apologize again after losing the skate-off.
  • Sudden Death: When the Sweetwater Rollers tie for first place with the Garden Boys, Sweetness' bruised ego leads to this exchange:
    Sweetness: "A draw? A draw!? I don't draw- I win!"
    Junior: "Not today, Mr. Sweeeeeeeeetness!"
    Sweetness: "How's some South Side garbage gonna tie with us? This can't happen!"
    X: "Look, man, you guys did good today! Just chill out!
    Sweetness: "YOU chill out, punk! Little sorry sucka! I'm the king of this here floor, you dig? I ain't about to let some ghetto group from the hood destroy the House that Sweetness Built! You can believe THAT! [beat] We need to have a skate-off. Me and you, winner take all."
    X: [beat] Nah, that's okay. We're just gonna take half of our winnings and hustle back to the "poor South Side." You keep the trophy, chump." [turns to leave]
    Sweetness: "What? You scared? X stops Scared that you don't belong over here? That you are beneath US?"
    X: "No. See, I'm just trying to help you save face, because I would HATE to see you get spanked in front of all your fans!"
    Sweetness: "Young Blood, you couldn't spank me if your hands were glued to my ass."[crowd laughs]
    X: "My hands glued to your ass!? [leans in] I don't know, that sounds a little sweet to me, Sweetness. [crowd laughs harder] Now, let's skate!"
    Sweetness: "You just bought yourself an ass whuppin'. Winner take all, no falls. Bet?"
    X: "Bet."
    Sweetness: [to DJ] "Let's do this, Johnny!"
  • Tall-Haired Pretty Boy: Sweetness, full stop. He works the hell out of this image, too, causing girls to swoon, faint, and even Cat Fight over a towel that holds his sweat. Not even Tori, Naomi, or X's little sister Sonya (the fainter) are immune to this.
    Curtis: (rolls eyes) "Ooh, boy..."
  • Unconfessed Unemployment: This is what gets X so angry with his father in the climax, due to the latter lying to X and his younger sister Sonya about having a job.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: After pushing it by having his shirt open every single time he's onscreen, Sweetness finally invokes the trope full-on with a tearaway shirt in the final battle, remaining shirtless until he exits.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: There are shades of this. The fact that Curtis views skating as "a waste of time" is a clear indicator of the rift between him and Xavier, leading the latter to a complex that makes him drive away his love interest Naomi. X starts to turn some things around in his life after he and his father reconcile. There's a noticeable smile on X's face when Curtis, Vivian and Sonya show up at the skate-off. It's also telling that Curtis, rather than Naomi, is the one to finally bring X out of his concussion.
    X: "Dad, what are y'all doing here?"
    Curtis: "What do you mean, what are we doing here? I'm here to watch you win!"
  • What the Hell, Hero?: X gets a couple of moments, from repeatedly rejecting Naomi (which Tori calls him out on) to bashing in the windows, headlights and windshield of his late mom's car after having it out with Curtis.
    Curtis: "You think you're a man today? Put the bat down, because if I have to put my hands on you, I SWEAR TO GOD you're gonna find out which one of us is a man today!!!"