Rated PG-13; Directed by Drew Barrymore; Starring Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Landon Pigg, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Daniel Stern, Andrew Wilson
With thirty years in the entertainment business, actress Drew Barrymore tries something new. She is now a director. Her debut effort is a genial, humorous film that offers a well-told story with interesting characters. Whip It may not offer audiences a deep, emotional drama, but Barrymore does know how to make a fun film.
Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is a high-school student living in a small Texas town. She tries to please her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) by participating in beauty pageants, but then one night she goes to a women’s roller derby game and is hooked. Keeping it secret from her parents, Bliss joins the last-place team, the Hurl Scouts, and finds happiness as “Babe Ruthless,” the league’s newest player. She also finds love with a local rocker (Landon Pigg). Though she enjoys the sport, Bliss finds it hard to maintain her double life as the Hurl Scouts start to win a few games.
The charm of the movie is how the characters are not one-dimensional caricatures. Drew Barrymore found a great cast. Marcia Gay Harden and Daniel Stern are wonderful as the concerned parents. Ellen Page makes Bliss an interesting young woman. The rest of the roller girls have their moments, with Kristen Wiig as Maggie Mayhem, and Juliette Lewis as Iron Maven, standing out.
The plot offers humor mixed with some drama, plus some nice character development. Barrymore shows a sure hand at telling the story. She certainly proves that she has the skills at directing. The movie may be just another sports story though with a female focus, but Whip It is a sweet film that deserves an audience.