I would be lying if I said I didn’t like The Prayer of the Rollerboys. It’s one of my favorite films. Some days it is my favorite film – most days in fact. But I really can’t recommend it. Even people generous to bad films dislike this one. I don’t hold it against them. In fact, my own affection for this cheese can only be chalked up to some kind of unusual fetish that simply can’t be explained. The acting is bad, but not bad enough to be laughable. The music is mostly cheesy pop, but nothing too out of the ordinary for action films. I never liked rollerblading. So what’s the catch? I don’t know. The closest I can come up with is the style: the way Los Angeles looks during sunset, the bending echo of electric guitar during action scenes, and the hairstyles. Prayer of the Rollerboys happened between the demise of pop metal and before the ascendancy of grunge, in a time when youth culture didn’t know what the hell it was going to do next. It was a good time for hairstyles.
Corey Haim’s hair, like that of Nicolas Cage, has always veered dangerously close to the edge. In this film he hit the apex of what he had been working towards since The Edison Twins. An electric shock bowl cut bleached Sun-In Orange. This is the perfect look for wearing headbands because of the shaved circumference of the perimeter. After this film Haim cut the top shorter and evened the length out over his entire head and that is largely what led to the downfall of his career, but here his hair is at the height of its powers.
The antagonist Gary Lee, played by Christopher Collette, takes a very different and some would say more daring route. Gary Lee is a neo-fascist racist that blames immigrants for the downfall of America and he is bent on buying the country back and exterminating what he refers to as “foreign hordes.” Now the mullet is no stranger to the white power community, but it usually accompanies the toothless meth lab variety and not the well-organized cartel variety that prefers crew-cuts or salt and pepper old man quaffs. For this reason Gary Lee’s well-permed fashion mullet would normally be out of place, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t work.
Bango is played by Mark Pellegrino, who is probably the best actor involved with the film, but not as risky with his hairstyle choice. He has the standard crew cut bleached get-‘em-outta-here white, but I can’t imagine another style that would work for him as well as this one. Still, the best hair award goes to Bullwinkle.
Morgan Weisser approached the bleeding edge of hairstyles for the time. The big hair days of Sunset Blvd. were in their twilight years, and the Manic Panic undercuts of mall grunge were just a glimmer in the eyes of Seattle food courts, so most people were veering somewhere in-between shock-gelled punk, permed mullets or some throwaway square hair while waiting for the next big thing. Bullwinkle said “fuck that” and grew the type of feathered 70s drapery that would have given Jaclyn Smith a heart attack. Thank god her husband is a cardiothoracic surgeon.
If you imagine these hairstyles blowing in the wind to Satriani-esque guitar theatrics under the warm glow of a Venice Beach sunset and you smile, then this is the film for you. If you liked Point Break or the Fast and the Furious but wished they had concerned rollerblading nationalists instead of surfing bank robbers or drag racing truck heists, then this is the film for you. In fact, if you’re still reading this, you may want to check the film out. I certainly love it.
But it’s really fucking awful.