It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Film by film, the makers of "Roll Bounce" have been creating a new world in American movies. This is a world in which black people live in well-kept homes, have jobs, don't do drugs, don't have guns, aren't in gangs, don't call anybody "bitch" and do not use a famous 12-letter word.
It is sad that I need to write such a paragraph, but relevant: The dominant image of African-Americans in the movies is of the lawless, the violent and the drugged. This image does not represent the majority of black people, but it works as subtle propaganda in the minds of audiences of all races.
Now consider some titles. The producers of "Roll Bounce," Robert Teitel and George Tillman Jr., also made "Soul Food," "Men of Honor" (with Cuba Gooding as the first black Navy diver), "Barbershop" and its spin-offs, and "Beauty Shop." Some of the movies are better than others, but all of them have good hearts. They reflect a reality that is missing in the Friday night multiplex specials.
"Roll Bounce," a nostalgic memory of disco roller-dancing in the late 1970s, has warm starring performances from Bow Wow (formerly Lil Bow Wow) and Chi McBride, who are funny, lovable and sometimes touching. In their different ways, they're mourning the death of a mother and wife; Xavier (Bow Wow) hangs out with four friends at a Chicago South Side roller rink and Curtis, his dad, (McBride) obsesses on repairing his dead wife's car. It is his secret that after 10 years as an engineer, he lost his job when his company closed, and he is out of work.
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