Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Mike has an ambition in life, and that is to be a professional Roller Derby star. The starting pay is $12,000 a year, which is what be makes building tires, but the glamour and the glory of the Roller Derby is worth an uncountable amount. Mike thinks he would be good: "In a couple years I could be making the big money. Charlie O'Connell makes 50 grand a year."
Charlie O'Connell is in his 30s and is the star of the San Francisco Bay Bombers. He is to the Derby what DiMaggio was to baseball. The Derby has been kind to him, and he tells us something about his life. He started out in a park in New York, forming his first Roller Derby team with nine or 10 kids from the neighborhood. They skated around and around a cast-iron railing in the park. "The kids today," he says, "don't do nothing. Look at them, just walking around and throwing dirt."
Because Charlie O'Connell had skill and determination, however, he lives today in a beautiful two-level ranch-style home with a kidney-shaped swimming pool where, one night not long ago, he threw a great pool party. It is a hard life on the road, however, driving from city to city, staring bleakly at motel walls, putting on your uniform in the john. "After a while," one of Charlie's teammates says, "I don't even have to put the damn thing on. It just leaps at me."
"Derby," which is one of the most engaging movies I have seen in a long time, is about Mike Snell and Charlie O'Connell and about why the Roller Derby is, in some respects, a mirror held up to the American lower middle class. The movie never quite made it commercially; it played for a week as the bottom half of a double bill at the McVickers, and now it has surfaced for a very short time at the 400 Theater in Rogers Park. In this muggy summer season of brainless mass entertainments, of snakes and rats and vampires, it is the best thing in town.