It's difficult to make a family comedy these days; the producers of Roll Bounce have learned that the hard way. In this coming-of-age story set in the '70s, Bow Wow plays X, an all-American teenager who loves roller-skating, rides a newspaper route and is discovering the opposite sex. Comedy and sadness ensue as X and his friends start to frequent a skating rink on the rich side of town after their local rink closes.
Director Malcolm D. Lee previously helmed Undercover Brother, a sometimes funny, often raunchy dissertation on black and white stereotypes; the writer of Roll Bounce is Norman Vance Jr., who has done a countless number of scripts for pedestrian sitcoms like Girlfriends and Moesha, not to mention the excellently original movie Beauty Shop. Then, there is the cast: from bad rapper and mediocre-at-best actor Bow Wow to cameos by Mike Epps and Nick Cannon.
The film fails as a comedy because there are not enough strong laughs, and the racial jokes are so numerous that they become abrasive. The tender scenes fail to connect with the viewer because the writing and acting are forced. The best aspect of Roll Bounce is musical -- the period songs (some remakes) are fun -- and the roller-skating choreography isn't too bad either.