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Originally published Friday, September 23, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Movie review

A summer of love on skates

The end of the dismal summer movie season couldn't have been blessed with a more satisfying coda than the rollicking, funny, relentlessly...

Special to The Seattle Times

The end of the dismal summer movie season couldn't have been blessed with a more satisfying coda than the rollicking, funny, relentlessly cheery and genuinely touching spirit that makes "Roll Bounce" a captivating delight from start to finish.

This charming tale may be small in scale, but its heart and soul are immense and always in the right place. That place is Chicago, 1978, where a teenager's disco-roller-skating summer of love becomes cause for more clichéd movie moments than there are shards of glitter cast from a mirror ball twirling above an old-fashioned wooden rink.

Movie review 3 stars

Showtimes and trailer

"Roll Bounce," with Bow Wow, Chi McBride, Wesley Jonathan, Meagan Good, Mike Epps, Charles Murphy, Nick Cannon, Paul Wesley. Directed by Malcolm Lee, from a screenplay by Norman Vance Jr. 112 minutes. Rated PG-13 for language and some crude humor. Several theaters.

Note: 10 percent of Fox Searchlight's opening-weekend box-office proceeds from "Roll Bounce" will be donated to the Operation USA for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief.

Rather than crashing into a massive pileup, those clichés turn into one joyous experience that's full of doting period detail and music. All of it is kept apace with sincere feeling that seamlessly spins from cheerful to choked-up, 'round and 'round again.

'Lil no more, youthful heartthrob Bow Wow plays Xavier "X" Curtis, who's rolling through an emotional adolescence with his gang of skate-obsessed pals, a tentative love interest, a needy little sister and newly widowed dad (Chi McBride).

Bow Wow's acting chops add to the movie's catalog of wonders, especially in a couple of poignant scenes with McBride, whose comic manner suggests a more caring version of Bernie Mac's TV dad.

When the kids' local Southside rink shutters for good, they're forced to go across town to the upscale roller cathedral Sweetland, where Chicago's snooty "jam-skating" idols flaunt the sweetest moves eight wheels and a disco-soul soundtrack will allow. In fact, "Roll Bounce" would pack a rousing punch for its exhilarating choreography and dynamite musical accompaniment alone.

Sweetland's house heroes are ruled by Sweetness (Wesley Jonathan), a sex-object-on-wheels with unbuttoned-to-the-waist polyester blouse, matching hip-hugger bell-bottoms and Afro hair style.

It will startle no one to see Sweetness and his preening posse pitted against X and his Southside roller-boogiers in a climactic skate-off.

All the cliché threads get tied into one pretty bow, but the denouement is surprising nonetheless for the glowing gentility and heartwarming smile "Roll Bounce" can't help but leave behind.

Ted Fry:

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