Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page and Kristen Wiig in Whip It|
by Lewis Bazley, published on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - 12:25
Whats it all about?
Out of place in the tiny town of Bodeen, Texas, Bliss Cavendar (Page) goes along with her mothers (Harden) beauty pageant dreams but knows she isnt meant for the world of tiaras and fake tan. after a chance encounter with some competitors in the Austin roller derby Bliss finds a world in which she truly belongs and soon becomes a star of the league under the name Babe Ruthless. but can she maintain her double life?
As an example
Im supposed to buy you shoes from a headshop? Does that strike you as responsible parenting? Brooke Cavendar
Fine. Cos shoes are a gateway drug. Bliss
Im Maggie Mayhem. Maggie
Im Bliss but I could change that. Bliss
Yeah youll need to change that. Maggie
If youre still having trouble keeping track of the game, dont worry youre not the only one. Jimmy
What the others say
[It's] hard not to be moved by the irrepressible sense of fun and optimism on display here. Lucy Barrick, Radio Times
Yes, the movie has cliches. yes, it all leads up to a big game. yes, there is a characters validating appearance near the end. yes, and so what? The movie is miles more intelligent than most of the cream-of-wheat marketed to teenage girls. Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
So is it any good?
Dont be taken in by the bubblegum design of the Whip it advertising campaign. Drew Barrymores first film behind the camera though she steals countless scenes as the superbly-named Smashley Simpson is certainly more sentimental than you might imagine from a look at the frequently brutal world of roller derby. but among the big hits, fishnets and eyeliner of the derby track is an involving look at identity and ambition that Barrymore handles with aplomb. Whip it wheels through some familiar territory, be it small town ennui, the burdens of parental expectation and teenage heartbreak, but does so with exuberance and joy. and with a cast who excel in even the smallest of roles Arrested Developments Alia Shawkat and a startlingly chubby Daniel Stern the highlights its a ride youre happy to join, whether youve seen it before or not.
Pages talent is no secret but her work as Bliss confirms why Christopher Nolans selected her for a major part in Inception while Bliss is as whipsmart and alienated as Juno, theres a sweetness to the roller derby queen that was largely absent from the pregnant teen and she spars superbly with the alluring Kristen Wiig and Harden as the disappointed mother. Theres also a great deal to praise in Barrymores direction, with an underwater love scene especially impressive, though many of the roller derby scenes dont quite exhilarate as frequently as youd hope.
But any shortcomings, whether in plot or style, are more than made up for by the immense sense of enjoyment on offer, with authentic friendships among the female cast making Blisss or Babes journey one that rolls away with your heart.