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Featured DVD Review: Roadracers

March 17th, 2012

Roadracers - Buy from Amazon: Buy from Amazon

Roadracers was only the second film by Robert Rodriguez and by far it is his least well known. It was made for TV back in 1994 as part of Showtime's Rebel Highway series. It was supposed to have a DVD release in 2005, with color correction, audio commentary track, and another installment of Robert Rodriguez's Ten-Minute Film School. However, at the last minute, it was pulled from the schedule. Now it is being released by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, a studio that specializes in low budget releases for hard to get films. For instance, I recently reviewed The Station Agent, which is a featureless re-release of an out of print DVD. For fans of the actor, being able to buy the film on DVD is good news. But is this going to be a featureless bargain DVD?

The Movie

Roadracers is set in a small town in the 1950s. When we meet Dude Delaney, he's on the run from the cops and late for a date with Donna. Donna is not happy he is late, as she's only at the club because Dude likes Rockabilly. In fact, it's Dude's dream to become a rock star just like his idol. He's best friends with Nixer, a juvenile delinquent like himself, but one obsessed with movies. At the moment, Nix is obsessed with Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (Obviously the 1956 original and not the 1978 remake.) While Dude hangs out with those two a lot, for the most part, he's a loner and he feels the whole town is against him. He does have some reasons to think that. Donna's adoptive parents hate him. He has a heated rivalry with fellow greaser Teddy Leather (Jason Wiles). And the town's sheriff, Sarge, is looking to bust him, and not just send him to jail either.

At this point, we run into a bit of a problem with spoilers. The movie's plot is rather simple; it's about a guy who dreams of being a rock star and travelling with the girl he loves, but he's stuck in a small town dealing with the thugs and cops. From the very beginning, we get the impression that there is going to be a final confrontation that will be very final for someone. There are many things that happen before it gets to that, but individual encounters with cops and thugs, whether it is at the roller rink or at T.J.'s diner, are full of spoilers.

I can say that this film has an amazing amount of style. Robert Rodriguez took the Juvenile Delinquent genre, which was popular in the 1950s thanks to films like Rebel Without A Cause, and created something with a lot more style and a lot darker. The acting is also great. Some will look at David Arquette and think he's miscast as the troubled greaser, but he's excellent. This is Salma Hayek's first English-speaking role, but she shows she has star power. John Hawkes is loads of fun as Dude's best friend. And you can never go wrong with William Sadler as a bad guy and he and Jason Wiles play that role well.

The Extras

As for the extras, we are in luck. There are extras. All the extras from the cancelled DVD appear to be here, starting with an audio commentary track with Robert Rodriguez, who provides a wealth of information on making a film for under $1 million in less than two weeks. The Ten-Minute Film School goes over a lot of the same information. If you are a fan of Robert Rodriguez, you've seen a lot of these on his DVDs. They are always fun to watch.

The Verdict

Roadracers is a very good, especially given the film's budget and shooting schedule limitations. Fans of Robert Rodriguez will certainly want to check it out, while the DVD has more extras than I was expecting, so for $9.99 it is worth picking up. However, the Blu-ray comes out next month and it is currently $1 cheaper. Pre-order that release instead.

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Filed under: Video Review, Roadracers