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Roller Town
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by Jay Seaver

"The best roller disco movie of 2012, bar none."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2012 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: Because any fad that makes anybody some money will attract some movie producer's attention, there was a brief period where Hollywood put out roller disco movies. Because every sub-genre that ever existed will eventually resurface, some guys in 21st century Halifax decided to make their own. And because sometimes we as moviegoers get lucky, comedy collective Picnicface's "Roller Town" is kind of a riot.

When Leo (Mark Little) was a kid, his father moved to Brookfield, Nova Scotia, and built Roller Town, but was killed by his loan shark. Now (1980-ish), Leo lives in a bedroom above the rink and dreams of attending the nearby Brookfield Conservatory of Roller Skating, even though they only take classically trained roller-skaters. Such as Julia (Kayla Lorette), daughter of disco-hating Mayor Sedgwick (Christopher Shore), who sneaks into Roller Town one night, locks eyes with Leo, and, well. Not all is well, though - Gregs (George William Basil), the man who killed Leo's father, is a silent partner in the rink, and is putting pressure on remaining owner Murray to add new-fangled electronic games to the place.

Spoofing roller disco movies is, to put it generously, shooting fish in a barrel, but at least they are colorful fish that, in this case, are shredded in a bright, cheerful explosion of fish guts. Part of the reason why it works is that beyond the garish colors and disco soundtrack, it's really just spoofing dumb teenager movies. Which, sure, isn't that much harder a target, but is so broad of one that you can hang all sorts of jokes from the premise.

And they do. Much of the cast and crew has been working together for a few years, and they've developed a voice that is bizarre but practiced and tested, and they toss another one at the audience every thirty seconds or so, with a pretty good rate of success. Gregs and his henchmen are particularly good sources of dumb guy comedy ("show them what happens when you go against me" and the results kind of slays me). Director Andrew Bush and co-writers Mark Little and Scott Vrooman are also good at making the sudden jump within a scene to crude and/or really strange work, and hiding jokes in small details (like a game called "Anakranoid" in this too-early time period).

They're also, for the most part, a fun crew in front of the camera. Mark Little plays Leo broader/dumber than what most of the cast goes for, but it works for him. Kayla Lorette is mostly taking sane-person duty, but she's got a knack for making that sort of confusion funny as opposed to just weirdly uncomfortable. George William Basil and Path Thornton, as mentioned, do a great job slightly exaggerating and then undermining villain conventions, while Scott Vrooman dives straight in as Julia's previous preppy boyfriend.

(Oh, and stay through the credits - the endless stream of names that comes with any partly-crowdfunded movie is livened up by the titles they chose for themselves)

Does it all necessarily work as well without a large, enthusiastic audience, considering that it seems lined up for a primarily-VOD release? I don't know, but it should do OK; the jokes are good, with payoffs and everything, rather than just wacky period details and random weirdness. It works even if you've never seen the jokes' targets before, which is a good things, because these guys are funny enough to deserve a bigger audience than roller-disco fetishists.

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originally posted: 07/31/12 02:51:18
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Slamdance Film Festival For more in the 2012 Slamdance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 4th Annual Chicago International Movies & Music Festival For more in the 4th Annual Chicago International Movies & Music Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2012 series, click here.

User Comments

1/08/13 Salami Best movie ever! 5 stars
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Directed by
  Andrew Bush

Written by
  Andrew Bush
  Mark Little
  Scott Vrooman

  Kayla Lorette
  Mark Little
  Scott Vrooman

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