Whip It: Be Your Own Hero (2009)

Posted: July 14, 2011 in Drama, Sport

While the high school experience for a girl in a small Texas town might be filled with football and beauty pageants, Bliss Cavendar does not seem to fit into the norm. Her mother has her participating in the pageant world, but she feels like a misfit searching for something different and exciting. She attends a roller derby and gets the push to try out. After making team, she goes from being shy and meek to ruthless. She helps to take a team from a previously winless season to making a threat at the undefeated Holy Rollers. Everything seems to falling into place with the derby, a new boy and the loving support of her friends. But when everything seems to be on track, she starts to fall into trouble with problem after problem threatening her happiness, relationships and future in the derby.

Starring: Ellen Page (Bliss Cavendar), Jimmy Fallon (Johnny Rocket), Marcia Gay Harden (Brooke Cavendar), Kristen Wiig (Maggie Mayhem), Zoe Bell (Bloody Holly), Eve (Rosa Sparks), Drew Barrymore (Smashley Simpson), Andrew Wilson (Razor), Juliette Lewis (Iron Maven), Ari Graynor (Eva Destruction), Sydney Bennett (Kami Kaze), Carlo Alban (Birdman), Alia Shawkat (Pash), Mary Callaghan Lynch (Val), Shannon Eagen (Amber), Sarah Habel (Corbi)

The exciting element of this movie is the dynamic cast and their more untraditional roles as aggressive athletes. Ellen Page has always had a certain tough streak but her size and overall personality would not naturally lend to being a roller derby star. She truly does transform into “Babe Ruthless” as she starts to practice with the team, riding on her speed at the start but building an aggressive streak that lends to her success. Dramatically she does an great job with the misfit personality and the challenges of narrow vision as a teenager. Kristen Wiig’s presence as the guide to the derby world and voice of reason plays better on screen than the majority of her other feature films. While certainly a part of some great movies, her solo performance in Whip It flows better with the other characters. As the best friend, Alia Shawkat has a dual relationship as both the support and challenge to Page’s derby and boy quests, providing an extra sense of spunk to their friendship. Adding the comedic talents of Drew Barrymore as Smashly Simpson, Andrew Wilson (brother of Owen and Luke Wilson) as Razor, Jimmy Fallon as Hot Tub Johnny Rocket, Eve as Rosa Sparks, Zoe Bell as Bloody Holly, Ari Graynor as Eva Destruction and Juliette Lewis as Iron Maven gives the film a great balance of humor and drama.

The theme of Whip It as directed by Drew Barrymore is fairly traditional as far as teen dramas go. This film is structured to meet a broader range of viewers though. Taking the formula of awkward teen finds exciting new venture works very well for the cast and story. Barrymore’s directorial debut builds strongly as Bliss finds herself in the derby world, hiding her age to take on a new adventure. She breaks out of the mold of the weak, shy outcast and finds a fiery passion in the company of women who break traditional gender roles. She passes along the message of finding one’s calling and challenging oneself to go beyond what you know to find what you want. While the message is inspirational, the movie’s success truly rides on its indie feel and rough, aggressive personality.

Whip It  is a playfully aggressive film that provided a great platform to expand on Ellen Page’s early career. With a fairly cohesive cast and unique perspective of an untraditional sport, it is a enjoyable experience that may not wow but will entertain.

Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s