A lazy summer movie inexplicably released this autumn weekend, Roll Bounce provides enough hot jams and smooth moves to bring a smile to the face of the coldest moviegoer. In Chicago in the 1970’s a group of adolescent friends on the south side lose their ghetto roller rink and begin commuting to a more integrated, flashier rink. There, they experience the coming-of-age hijinks with the opposite and rivalry with an older roller gang that you might have predicted they would. A sub-plot, involving the main character and his father dealing with the death of the mother/wife, provides a maudlin undercurrent to the summer fun.
While the writing and acting isn’t as consistent as nostalgia movies like A Christmas Story or, more comparably, The Wood — and despite sweeping under the rug any political or historical events other than a single reference to Nixon — Roll Bounce nonetheless has the costumes, slang and music Music MUSIC to get the job done. It has heart, and it’s fun. A mild recommend.
We’ve already been treated to a more convoluted airplane movie recently with Red Eye, and people who don’t demand their entertainment contain consistent, plausible storytelling seemed to enjoy that movie… So far be it from me to warn people away from Flightplan. To prove the movie’s inconsistency, however, I’m going to have to deploy a few spoilers, which I’ll hide in the link below. Ya been warned.
How familiar? Well, I remember remarking after seeing the trailer, that this was Bunny Lake is Missing on a plane. Bunny Lake is from 1965, so maybe it isn’t too familiar. Bunny Lake is also about a lost child that no one believes exists. In the final analysis, we discover that the woman is not crazy, her brother is. He kidnapped the child so he could have the sister to himself. Creepy, and not insulting to the audience’s intelligence.
In Flightplan, the final explanation for the child’s disappearance is a convoluted terrorist (or just greed-based?) plot. It doesn’t take more than a few seconds of going backwards through the movie to see that it is constructed entirely of trick writing, conveniently unfolding in a way that provides action sequences and ‘where’s my child’ tsuris. When enough of the plot is revealed, the logic holes are big enough to swallow 747, not to mention a six-year-old. What’s more, Flightplan fails the false-ending test, which states that when the main bad guy is defeated and seemingly all is well, a new threat will rise from the ashes to give us one more action sequence. I was waiting for it the whole stupid coda. Imagine if the captain had said, “I’m sorry… sorry I didn’t kill you!” Better movie.
But back to the logic holes. Nevermind that a corrupt air marshall could do a lot more damage and blackmail for a lot more money than he did. Would he ever in a million years come up with a more complicated patsy set-up? How could he know that by killing her husband, she would have to fly back on the very first flight of the plane she designed? (And if she only designed the engines — how does she know so much about the cabin of the plane?) I thought all luggage was X-rayed post 9-11. Is there some exception for coffins? By hiding her child and making her look crazy, he also makes her look like a master criminal? In other words, if she had the explosives on board, why would she bother with the running around? She would just pass a note to the flight attendant and they would have to take her seriously.
Make no doubt about it, the actors aren’t trapped on a plane, they are trapped in a plot that moves them around like pawns on a chessboard. Jodie Foster can’t act her way out of this house of cards. Greta Scacci, Erika Christensen and Kate Beahan are wasted, playing plot devices more than characters. Peter Sarsgaard, after this and Skeleton Key continues to demonstrate that he is available for the next M. Night Shyamalan movie.
All in all, Flightplan has some excellent filmmaking put in service of some sloppy screenwriting. Brian Grazer and Jodie Foster should know better than to make a script that has gone so far off course. Do yourself a favor and don’t bother to board this plane.