ATL (review)

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Hey, I saw this movie last year, when it was called Roll Bounce. Not that there’s anything wrong with stealing from a fun and funky little movie like that one, though perhaps letting a tad more time pass would have been decorous. Here, the retro charm of that disco-era coming-of-age comedy has been replaced with a serious solemnity — with hip-hop roller skating, natch — but that’s okay. This tale of 17-year-old Rashad (an impressive debut by rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris), a boy forced to become a man too soon, blah blah blah, on the wrong side of the tracks of Atlanta, Georgia, is pretty darn involving and pretty darn smart for a teen flick — there’s a genuine affection among Rashad’s gang of adolescent misfits, and the awkward relationship he edges into with the sassy New-New (the charming Lauren London) is rather poignant and beautifully played by the young cast. Even the subplot involving Rashad’s little brother (Evan Ross) and his dabblings in drug dealing and trying to grow up even faster than Rashad is handled with an assured aplomb by director Chris Robinson — a music-video meister making his debut, too — who finds the gold behind the glittering bling.

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