A rebellious teenager pursues her passion and discovers the meaning of true happiness in the heartwarming comedy Whip It, debuting on Blu-ray Disc with Digital Copy and DVD January 26 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Ellen Page (Juno) scores huge laughs as Bliss Cavendar, a small-town teenager with a big dream; to find her own path in the world. Tired of following in her family’s footsteps of compliance and conformity, Bliss discovers a way to put her life on the fast track…literally. She lands a spot on a rough-and-tumble roller derby team and becomes “Babe Ruthless,” the hottest thing on eight wheels. Co-starring Golden Globe nominee* Drew Barrymore (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle) in her feature film directorial debut, Oscar winner** Marcia GayHarden (Mystic River), Juliette Lewis (Cape Fear), Daniel Stern (City Slickers) and late night show host Jimmy Fallon (Fever Pitch), Whip It is a triumphant, free-spirited comedy loaded with high-speed action and nonstop fun. The film also features appearances by real life derby girls Rachel Piplica and Kristen Adolfi, better known as Iron Maiven and Krissy Krash of the Los Angeles Derby Dolls.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost three decades since the world fell in love with cute, little Drew Barrymore in Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.” His mentoring behind the camera must have had more effect on Drew than he realized. When an opportunity to direct “Whip It” landed in her lap, she hopped at the chance. She definitely didn’t cut any corners, assembling some of the coolest girls in Hollywood, as her not so feminine derby hit squad.
Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) isn’t the type of teenager that likes to be told what to do. Having her mother Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden), as an ex-beauty pageant winner, doesn’t help matters. She wants her daughter to follow in her footsteps, even if it’s not what Bliss wants for herself. Like any typical teenager, when they are forced to do something they don’t choose on their own, they rebel. The problem for Bliss, is living in Bodeen, Texas doesn’t supply many options for entertainment. Or so she thought. One day, while out shopping with her stern mother, Bliss is attracted to an advertisement for female roller derby, and is perplexed by the idea. After sneaking to watch a match, she feels what it’s like to love something, for the very first time in her life. Mentored and adopted by a group of misfit, fun loving women known as “The Hurl Scouts,” Bliss transforms into “Babe Ruthless,” the side of her personality that’s been begging to be let out. The rest is history, as the girls form a tight bond working together, to finally finish first, after years of taking second place.
The last thing I expected from a first time director (Drew Barrymore), and an average ensemble cast, was an end result of decent quality. “Whip It” was much more entertaining than I ever dreamed. Ellen Page continues her stretch of role’s portraying the teenage outcast, similar to who she played in “Juno.” If it works for her, she should stick with it, but try to not be typecast in that role for an entire decade. She’ll have to mature sooner or later, so why not snatch up the “teeny bopper” roles while she can. Pretty soon she’ll have Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin nipping at her heels. You want to talk about the coolest collage of females since Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof,” this movie has one hell of a lineup. Eve, Kristin Wiig, Zoe Bell, Juliette Lewis, and Drew herself make up one sweet derby squad. Their creative derby aliases like “Maggie Mayhem, Bloody Holly, Rosa Sparks, Smashley Simpson, and Iron Maven” are just some of the derby alter egos. Most people don’t realize that Luke and Owen Wilson have a third brother who is just as cool, but not well known. We get the pleasure of seeing Andrew Wilson portray “Razor,” the girls’ derby coach. Once you hear him speak a line or two of dialogue, you’ll feel silly for not knowing they’re related. I hope to see Andrew in larger comedic roles. Daniel Stern was even kind enough to grab up the role as Bliss’s father, just to let us know he’s very much alive and would be glad to return for a “Home Alone” remake. Only kidding, but I wouldn’t complain. Just when I thought I have had enough of sports movies being all the same, “Whip It” came along and entertained me from beginning to end. Kudos to Drew Barrymore, and the rest of the girls for making one “bad ass chick flick.”
Review by Charlie Giltenboth