published on Thursday, March 10, 2011|
Rating: 3 stars
That Ellen Page is irresistible. I'll watch just about anything she's in . . . even if it's another one of those schmaltzy, girl-power, self-esteem pieces, directed by Drew Barrymore. Those movies are ok, but they're just as predictable as all the half-baked romantic comedies she phones in about once a year. And this film follows the same formula as all the rest of her confidence-building films: misunderstood (but beautiful) geek learns the value of being herself, that she doesn't need boys to really be happy, and about the joys of sisterhood--all with the guidance of a quirky group of more-experienced ladies (if I call them "older" ladies, it makes them sound 60). Ellens not at the top of her game, but then again, neither is the crazy band shes fallen in with. She may think theyre pretty intimidating when she first meets them, but with time, she learns that theyre just as lonely and awkward as she is. Maybe they can all learn a lesson from each other, and come out of the experience as better people! We've seen it all before, Drew.
But this movie does have a little bit more going for it than just that sentimental drivel. It does have a bunch of tough chicks in mini skirts, beating each other up in the roller derby--black eyes, skinned knees, and ripped fishnets. That's worth something right? Just a bunch of rough-and-tumble ladies, trying to have a little fun by smacking each other in the jaw, while traveling at high speeds. Although, somehow I always found myself way more interested in the bad-guys here. Juliette Lewis just seems way more believable as the jaded, world-wise, derby-gal than Drew Barrymore or Kristen Wiig ever could. Shes a rock-hard, mean bitch in a sport where that's a good thing. The rink isn't the place for those googly-eyed, goofy smiles that Barrymore is known for. It's a place for dirty tricks and throwing elbows. Oh well. At least that plucky, little Ellen Page is perfectly adorable as she picks up a trick of two from these "tough" gals. She's like the female Michael Cera with those big, bewildered eyes, her sweet stammer, and that effortless, hipster style. And, try as I might, I just cant find it in my heart to criticize this group when they finally get their act together and start to be a little bit successful at their chosen hobby. Good, wholesome fun. That's what this movie's about.