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The Independent Critic

Maxwell Chase, Debbie Kagy, Matthew Thompson, Taylor Piedmonte, Robert Ambrose, Mara Klein, Joy Regullano, Ryder Darcy
Damon Jamal
Jason Medbury, Peter Bisson, Mike Korich
90 Mins.
 "Rolling" Serves Up a Contemporary Tribute to "The Breakfast Club"  
Inspired by "The Breakfast Club," director Damon Jamal's Rolling is a contemporary version of that John Hughes classic in which a high school filmmaker, Drake (Matthew Thompson), breaks into his high school's campus during off-hours with a rather motley cast of outcasts, oddballs and cool kids in order to shoot a rather poorly planned film for a film school submission. Just as was true with Hughes' film, Rolling features all the high school stereotypes personified by  the drug dealing bully Sully (Ryder Darcy), the brain Ellen (Joy Regullano), the cheerleader Carly (Debbie Kagy), Drake's best friend Tim (Maxwell Chase), the freshman Michaela (Mara Klein) and Sean (Taylor Piedmonte), a basketball star.

With a decidedly more urban feel, likely the result of Jamal's own history as director of a number of top notch West coast music videos, Rolling is a darker and, perhaps, it could be said more brutally honest spin on Hughes' original yarn in which a small group of seemingly opposite high school students gather together and discover they have much more in common than they'd ever imagined.

In this case, Jamal and his trio of screenwriters turn the story into a more revelatory production that feels, in its best moments, less manufactured and more honest than The Breakfast Club even if it does occasionally struggle due to the challenges of working with a lower budget.

Rolling starts off a bit slowly, with the initial set-up dragging the film's energy and character introduction/exposition mostly coming off as riddled with cliches and faux dramatics. But, once the film really starts to get going about 20 minutes into the production we start to see a story unfolding that is intriguing in both the ways it mirrors The Breakfast Club and the ways in which it detours and makes an identity for itself.

While the ensemble cast for Rolling lacks the spark and spontaneity of the Hughes film, what they lack in spontaneity they make up for with the film's more improvisational spirit that plays well. Stand-outs among the cast include Maxwell Chase's terrific turn as Drake's best friend and occasional reality check, Mara Klein's grounded and appealing spin as the loner Michaela and Ryder Darcy's complex and layered performances as Sully. Initially, it seems like Darcy's going to turn Sully into just another drugged out cliche', but by film's end he's managed to create a character who can be simultaneously repulsive and sympathetic.

D.P. Ian S. Takahashi's camera work capitalizes on the film's darker feel and avoids the lightness and brightness of the original The Breakfast Club. This proves to be essential, because there are moments early on in the film when it so mirrors the Hughes film that you find yourself doing more comparing and contrasting than becoming absorbed in the story. With Takahashi's camera work so clearly creating a different look for the film, along with Candy Lopez's production design, Rolling is able to step out of Hughes's shadow and become a film all its own.

Rolling has been put together by the West coast production company In Yo Face Filmworks, which has also released quite a few music videos, short films and other video productions. The company's musical roots is evident throughout the film, as Rolling's killer soundtrack features a mostly urban sound that gives the film an edgier and earthier sound as opposed to Hughes' more pop-oriented vibe.

For more information on Rolling, be sure to visit the film's website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
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