The film features many TV stars from the 1960s and 1970s, among them Scott Baio, Flip Wilson, Maureen McCormick, Ron Palillo and Ruth Buzzi. Patrick Swayze's leading role as the skater "Ace" was his first movie performance. Also in the cast are Sydney Lassick, Billy Barty and Playboy centerfold model Dorothy Stratten.
One evening at a Los Angeles roller disco called Skatetown, U.S.A., a rivalry between two skaters (Patrick Swayze and Greg Bradford) culminates in a contest, the winning prize for which is $1000 and a moped. After a game of chicken played on motorized roller skates, the two rivals become friends.
Scott Baio as Richie
Flip Wilson as Harvey Ross
Patrick Swayze as Ace Johnson
Maureen McCormick as Susan Nelson
Greg Bradford as Stan Nelson
Ron Palillo as Frankey
Judy Landers as Teri
Ruth Buzzi as Elvira
Dorothy Stratten as customer at snack bar (girl who orders pizza)
Joe E. Ross as rent-a-cop
Dave Mason as himself
Billy Barty as Jimmy
Katherine Kelly Lang as Allison
David Landsberg as Irwin
Sydney Lassick as Murray
Murray Langston as the drunk
Bill Kirchenbauer as Skatetown doctor
Denny Johnston as the wizard (club DJ)
Vic Dunlop as Ripple
Len Bari as Alphonse
April Allen as Charlene (Ace's girlfriend and skating partner, uncredited)
The film features almost non-stop synchronized music, much by popular disco and pop artists from the mid and late 1970s. Most of this music is diegetic, in that it is shown within the plot as being played either through records spun by the roller disco's "wizard" DJ or performed on the club's stage and hence, is heard by both the characters and the movie's audience. Dave Mason is featured as a performer in the roller disco, playing himself. Mason sings the movie's disco-tinged theme song "Skatetown" (written by Mason and Brenda Cooper) over the opening credits. He is also shown performing "I Fell in Love" along with a cover of his own 1968 Traffic hit "Feelin' Alright." Among other songs on the soundtrack are the Patrick Hernandez dance hit "Born to Be Alive," "Boogie Wonderland" (Earth, Wind & Fire and The Emotions), "Shake Your Body" (The Jacksons), "Boogie Nights" (Heatwave), "Baby Hold On" (Eddie Money), "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" (McFadden & Whitehead), "I Want You to Want Me" (Cheap Trick), "Roller Girl" (John Sebastian), "Perfect Dancer" (Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.), Disco Nights (Rock-Freak) by GQ, a cover of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' "Under My Thumb" by the Hounds, and "Skatetown U.S.A." (John Beal) during the End Credits.
A soundtrack album was released in 1979 by Columbia Records.
"Skatetown" - Dave Mason (3:11)
"Boogie Wonderland" - Earth, Wind & Fire (4:49)
"Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" - The Jacksons (3:45)
"Boogie Nights" - Heatwave (3:38)
"Born to Be Alive" - Patrick Hernandez (3:23)
"Roller Girl" - John Sebastian (3:10)
"Perfect Dancer" - Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. (6:28)
"I Fell in Love" - Dave Mason (2:21)
"Under My Thumb" - Hounds (4:17)
"Feelin' Alright" - Dave Mason (4:30)
Following a widely publicized premiere party at Flipper's roller disco in West Hollywood on October 1, 1979 and billed as the Rock and Roller Disco Movie of the Year, by the time of its release roller disco was a fast-waning fad and the popularity of disco music had peaked (Disco Demolition Night had already happened two and a half months earlier). Aside from some praise for Swayze's skating and screen presence the movie was neither a critical nor a box office success. However, by the early 21st century a writer for oddculture.com called the film "a true cult item and one of the best 70s time capsules around. [...] There’s just something magical about a slutty Marsha [sic] eating drugged pizza with a bearded Horshack."
It was later shown on cable television from time to time. There have been no known licensed VHS or DVD releases. This may be owing to home video licensing woes over the soundtrack's many major label recordings. 35mm and 16mm full frame prints of the movie (which was shot in 35mm and cropped to widescreen for theatrical release) have been exhibited at film revivals and low quality video copies made from a much faded full frame 16mm print have been in commercial circulation.