Herr Milflover pours one out for his homie Corey Haim
Last weekend, the world woke up to the utterly unshocking news of Corey Haim’s overdose death and, as is always the case with actors, people have since been reminiscing about his on-screen legacy, no matter how overrated it might be. Whenever people talk about Haim’s movies, the first ones that come to mind are usually The Lost Boys and Licence To Drive, most likely because he starred in them alongside his better half Corey Feldman. Let’s face it, neither of the two were particularly good actors, and while they’ve enjoyed tremendous popularity as teen idols together, most of the movies they’ve been in, be it together or on their own, have been crap.
Let me introduce Exhibit A: Prayer Of The Rollerboys.
Set in an American future where the economy took a giant spin in the toilet, Corey stars as Griffin, an orphaned teen looking over his younger brother Miltie while living in a tent and delivering pizza, and is also an expertly-skilled (for 1991 anyway) rollerblader. On a pizza run one night, Corey helps a guy escape from a house set on fire by rival gang members by reverse driving his pizza van through the wall. The guy he saved, Bullwinkle, is a member of the Rollerboys, one of the most notorious gangs in the city. They are led by the charismatic Gary Lee (Christopher Collet), who’s got his own ‘save America’ recruitment infomercials on tv, and just happens to be Griffin’s childhood best friend. That’s fate for you.
Gary Lee sets out to recruit Griffin as a Rollerboy, sneakily using his influence as a cool badass on the impressionable Miltie to try and persuade him. Griffin remains implacable at first, but eventually accepts the proposal… with a twist. He does it as an undercover agent for the police, who want him to infiltrate the gang and help them put a stop to their production and distribution of a powerful designer drug dubbed ‘mist’. Griffin will have to make his way up the ranks and earn the trust of the gang, while keeping his brother safe, and contending with the charming Casey (Patricia Arquette), who is more than the sexy street-level tease that she appears to be.
The concept of a rollerblading street gang must have seemed really fucking awesome when I saw this in theater in 1991, but looking at it today… not so much. The Rollerboys are merely bunch of xenophobic neo-white supremacists, who follow the orders of a curly-mulleted douchebag, wear suspenders, beige trenchcoats and terrorized people around town while rollerblading in synchronized formations. They have meetings that consist of cult-like slogan-chanting ("Day of the rope! Day of the rope!"), and they throw wicked parties filled with booze and boobs and music like Nine Inch Nails’ Head Like A Hole. And they don’t do drugs to remain ‘pure’, because their evil mist concoction will make you infertile! Now that’s a masterplan.
Prayer Of The Rollerboys is not necessarily a bad movie in itself, it’s competently directed and the acting is decent enough to get by. Devin Clark, the kid playing Miltie, is kind of annoying as kid actors tend to be, but not enough to ruin it at least. There’s these two asshole cops who contrast the generally more serious tone of the movie with their portrayal that is really funny at times, so more of them would have been nice if only for giggles. Plus we get to see the always lovely Patricia Arquette wear some silly costumes; unfortunately there is no nudity on her part, which would have greatly improved my viewing experience. The ‘collapsed future’ settings bring up a few interesting ideas, like foreign countries taking over the education system by buying out universities and moving them to their own countries, so there is some social commentary about outside cultures being responsible for American society’s decay. But other than these thrown-in references, nothing else feels ‘futuristic’ at all, so with a few tweaks, the movie could have just been done using the real world as its stage and it all would have been just about the same, and probably more believable and relatable to the audience to boot.
Overall the movie fails to entertain by not living up to the potential of its concept premise, neither being a deep-thinking dramatic social commentary, nor embracing how preposterous it sounds and going balls-out schlock with it. A weak effort that merits a paltry one and a half changs. But not the worse Corey Haim movie I’ve ever seen, that would be the awful awful dreck called Demolition High, good luck to anyone willing to review that one.