Rogue 10: Ten Heroes Who Roller Skated to Glory

Thursday, 16 August 2012 14:16 Written by  iamrogue
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Rogue 10: Ten Heroes Who Roller Skated to Glory

Ladies and gentlemen, our latest Rogue 10 is a hall of champions, an inventory of characters who didn't merely overcome adversity, vanquish their foes, triumph over evil, etc.  These heroes did all that, of course, but they did it all with tiny little wheels strapped to their feet.  Yes, this is a list of cinematic characters who roller skated to glory, whether on traditional or in-line skates.

The inspiration for this particular list is Roller Town, a comedy from Funny or Die favorite Canadian comedy troupe PicnicFace.  Roller Town takes place during an unfortunate time in the late 20th century during which roller skate-based recreation collided with disco dance culture, producing a gaudy abomination that turned every roller rink into a worship center for discotronics. 

In the film, local legend Leo, played by Mark Little, must save his sleepy beach town's rink when villainous mobsters attempt to turn it into an arcade.  As he fights the Man, wins the girl, and unleashes his groovy roller-meals on wheels, Leo takes his place in the long line of characters who have done all that traditional heroes do.  But they did it while skating. 

For your entertainment and in no particular order, we humble present the latest Rogue 10:

Kira (Olivia Newton-John) - Xanadu (1980)

There have been plenty of representations of the muses onscreen, but this is the only one who is a roller-skating dream girl who emerged, fully-formed, from a mural.  She falls in love with the painter, a cipher with a dream to open a roller-club of some sort, but her love lands her in trouble with her godly parents, since apparently a muse is just supposed to skate around kissing dudes and participating in elaborately-choreographed musical dance numbers. 

The Ducks (Joshua Jackson, Shaun Weiss, Marguerite Moreau, Kenan Thompson, et al.) - The Mighty Ducks (1992)/D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994)

The ragtag team of youths spend most of their skating time on ice throughout the series, yeah, but in each installment, the kids take to in-line skates at least once.  In the first, Emilio Estevez takes the whole team on a jaunt to the mall in order to teach a local simpleton how to skate.  In the second, the kids partake in street hockey whilst exploring Los Angeles.  And if the third movie weren't disqualified for its paucity of Emilio Estevez, we'd mention that it kicks off with a Looney Toons-style rollerblading episode.

Ace Johnson (Patrick Swayze) - Skatetown, U.S.A. (1979)

Ace isn't actually the hero of Skatetown, USA, which is one of the three movies on this list that epitomize exactly the sort of nonsense Roller Town is mocking.  Ace Johnson is, in fact, the antagonist of this movie, but you've got to see it from his perspective.  He's the most hot dogging on a hot dog squad of disco skaters and intensely protective of his little sister, at whom some blonde punk from out of town starts spitting feeble game.  Most importantly, Ace is played by Patrick Swayze in his first feature role.

Andy "Brink" Brinker (Erik von Detten) - Brink! (1998)

In this milestone economic allegory masquerading as a flimsy Disney telemovie, the leader of a rollerblading posse known as Soul Skaters for the financial freedom and ideological purity of their fearsome moves faces the temptation to sell out.  He does so for the noblest of reasons, joining a corporate-sponsored team of shills in order to help ease his family's burden during hard times.  A Soul Skater eventually kicks Team X-Blads square in the nuts by forming him own syncretic fusion between commerce and competitive in-line skating known through the ages as Team Pup 'N Suds.

Dade Murphy aka Zero Cool aka Crash Override (Johnny Lee Miller) - Hackers (1995)

Like all the friends high school senior makes when he moves to Manhattan, Dade Murphy is a world class hacker and in-line skating enthusiast.  Whether he's on his way to the arcade, obsessing over a young Angelina Jolie or taking on a sinister corporate espionage scheme, Dade's preferred mode of transport are his rollerblades.  And it's not just him, either: when his hacking cohorts must beat the FBI to Grand Central Station, they do by changing traffic light patterns and skating to their destination.

Bobby James (Jim Bray) and Terry Barkley (Linda Blair) - Roller Boogie (1979)

It's a tale as old as time.  Aspiring roller skate Olympian and Venice Beach skater-girl fall for one another at the beach and a roller rink known as Jammers.  Then they have to marshal the forces of good against a mobster who intends to buy out their beloved Jammers.  The similarities between this and Roller Town are no coincidence.  Roller Boogie, Skatetown U.S.A., and Xanadu were all released within a year of each other, and elements of all three find their way into the comedy that inspired this list.

Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) - Whip It (2009)


Drew Barrymore's directorial debut follows Bliss, an unconventional young woman in a small Texas town where she's expected to participate in beauty pageants and such nonsense.  In discovering the competitive roller derby league in Austin, Bliss finds her passion and, surrounding herself with skaters she admires, sets about carving out her own genuine identity, despite the protestations of friends and family who imagined a more homogenized existence for her.  She does exactly as Kristen Wiig's Maggie Mayhem advises, putting on her skates and becoming her own hero.

Rollergirl (Heather Graham) Boogie Nights (1997)

Don't you ever disrespect her.

Jonathan E. (James Caan) - Rollerball (1975)

In the future as envisioned by Norman Jewison, corporations have replaced nation-states, and the globally-popular sport of Rollerball has become the bread and circuses of a new age.  Caan stars as Jonathan E., the star of Houston's team and a ten-year champion in the incredibly violent sport.  His popularity threatens the ruling corporate class and runs counter to the design of rollerball, intended to crush individualism.  When mere pressure fails to lure E. into retirement, executives conspire to get him killed in the course of play, but the guy is such a champ that he ends up undermining the whole dystopian set-up just by kicking ass at his sport.

Mitchell Goosen (Shane McDermott) - Airborne (1993)

It's not just that California surfer boy Mitchell Goosen is such a good rollerblader that we hear whooshing jet engine and projectile sound effects when he's on wheels.  No, that's what makes Mitchell good.  What makes him great is his blissed out state of speed-based transcendentalism and Gandhi-inspired nonviolence.  When he moves to land-locked Cincinnati, his new classmates don't take kindly to his "Chill, brah" attitude.  When he reveals his skills on skates, though, he eventually leads his friends in a fifteen-minute race against the hated Preps, taking on the ungodly route known only as "Devil's Backbone."  Bonus points for Seth Green as Mitchell's comedy-relief cousin, Wiley.

Roller Town is now available via Video On Demand, Amazon, and iTunes.

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