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‘Whip It’ brings back roller derby

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By Stacy Lee / Staff Writer

Derby girls (Fox Searchlight)

By Stacy Lee / Staff Writer

Brilliantly fun. Quirky yet sophisticated.

Those are just a few terms that best define “Whip It.”

The trailer makes the movie seem like a “chick flick;” however, it is completely different.

It is much more about girl power, friendship and family than the typical girly clichés. 

The movie successfully blurs the boundaries of action, comedy and romance films to be a charming coming of age dramedy.

Drew Barrymore chose the perfect project for her directorial debut.

The movie, which was originally written as a novel by real-life derby girl Shauna Cross, is about having fun, finding something enjoyable and finding yourself, something Barrymore can relate most of her life to.

The movie is a tale of a small town girl, Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page), and her foray into the wild world of women’s roller derby.

When we first meet Bliss, she is having a bad hair day, literally, she accidentally dyed it blue at a beauty pageant where her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) has forced her to be a contestant.

From the instant viewers see her walk on stage with blue hair, they want to root for her.

She is the ultimate underdog.

When Bliss isn’t competing in pageants for her mother, she is working at a BBQ joint with her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat).

Both girls want to get out of the small town, but Bliss lacks direction.

That changes, however, when she comes across a roller derby flyer while shopping in Austin with her mother and sister.

She is instantly intrigued and convinces Pash to go to the event where she falls in love with the sport and decides to join.

Bliss aka Babe Ruthless successfully lands a spot on the Hurl Scouts with Rosa Sparks (Eve), Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) and Smashley Simpson (Drew Barrymore).

Rough and tumble derby competitions ensue while the Hurl Scouts gradually climb their way up in the rankings.

The ending is unpredictable but will leave most of the audience satisfied.

It is clear that Bliss finds confidence in herself through roller derby.

She digs deep and finds the courage to stand up for herself and what she wants to do in life.

In addition, she completely matures in the course of the movie.

In the beginning she is forced to compete in beauty pageants for her mothers sake, but by the end of the movie she is doing something she is good at and is able to speak for herself.

In addition, she even falls in love with the lead singer of an indie band named Oliver (played by the handsome Landon Pigg).

Barrymore did a wonderful job casting the mostly female cast.

Page did a fantastic job, as usual, playing the offbeat role of Bliss.

In addition, Juliette Lewis, who played Bliss’ nemesis and lead derby girl of the Holy Rollers, did a great job playing the villain.

Something fascinating about the film was that in addition to the actors learning their own stunts by going to a roller derby boot camp, the teams actually featured real life derby girls, including Kristen Adolfi and Rachel Piplica.

All of the actors complimented each other and it appeared that the relationships were natural.

Barrymore also cast some great characters to play the zany male roles in the film, including “Hot Tub” Johnny Rocket (Jimmy Fallon) and Razor played by Andrew Wilson, younger brother to Owen and Luke.

The cinematography of the movie was fantastic as well.

Between the close-up shots of the girls competing and a scene where Oliver and Bliss are only underwater, it is clear that Barrymore has found her calling.

If the high speed plot wasn’t enough for someone to love the movie then the amazing soundtrack will be.

Barrymore incorporates all genres of music into the movie at the perfect times and seamlessly blends indie music with pop rock.

She included newer artists like Tilly and the Wall, Peaches and The Go! Team and also included industry heavyweights like The Ramones and Dolly Parton.

The film is a great feel-good movie.

Most people can relate to Bliss riding the rollercoaster that is her life, and many rooted for her to succeed throughout the whole movie.

Ultimately, “Whip It” is one of those movies you instantly fall in love with, and could possibly be one of the best movies of 2009.


Leader of the pack (Fox Searchlight)

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