Whip It

Film, Comedy
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Whip It
‘Whip It’ is essentially ‘Rollerball’ for the American Apparel set, where instead of James Caan battling fascist corporate powers you’ve got Ellen Page taking arms against crass feminine stereotypes. With her seductive and lightly anarchic directorial debut, Drew Barrymore strongarms her way into Austin’s underground roller-derby scene to tell the familiar tale of an underdog’s rise to sporting eminence. The sport itself makes little sense to the casual onlooker (it’s female-only, full-contact and involves charging around an oval-shaped roller rink on skates and looking mean), but the film is saved by the sincerity of its tone and the richness and variety of its ensemble cast – from Juliette Lewis’s hotshot banshee Iron Maven to Kristen Wiig’s nurturing Maggie Mayhem and Barrymore’s borderline psychotic Smashley Simpson. And deftly moderating her patented eye-rolling poseur shtick, Page delivers her most charismatic and least divisive performance to date as Bliss Cavendar, aka Babe Ruthless.

Taken as a florid celebration of female solidarity, the film is commendable, if hardly radical. But in the final reel, following a sappy my-first-boyfriend subplot and much indie- rock name-dropping, the focus shifts to examine Bliss’s increasingly fractured relationship with her fusty parents and a more discerning and emotionally substantial film emerges. Marcia Gay Harden, as Bliss’s ex-beauty-queen mother, shimmers in the background, desperate for her daughter to realise her potential, but also quietly devastated at the prospect of losing her to the big bad world. It’s a much needed oasis of quiet heartbreak amid the exhilarating cavalcade of sweaty roller girls.

By: David Jenkins


Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Wednesday April 7 2010
Duration: 111 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Drew Barrymore
Cast: Ellen Page
Juliette Lewis
Kristen Wiig

Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

I moved by the storyline between Bliss and her mother and don't think the script was cliched at all. Its refreshing to see a film where female characters don't have to be portrayed as size zero, or "put together" or expert asassins to be considered strong acceptable women. Bliss has more kick-ass than a thousand Hit-Girls.

I cannot believe this got four stars. It was quite possibly the worst film I have ever seen. Facile, formulaic movie-making of the very worst kind with nothing to recommend it. I will not go to another drew Barrymore directed film ever. The script could have been written by a 12 year old and was so predictable - with every movie cliche ticked off - you could almost say the lines before the 'actors' did. As for the 'action' scenes - laughably lacking in an kind of authenticity. Your reviewer - David Jenkins - should be relieved of his position. Unbelievable.

Is there a connection between free cinema tickets on Wednesdays (courtesy of Orange) and “B� movies released on the same day? Maybe. More telling is the story that Drew Barrymore supposedly got so merry last October that she couldn’t attend a showing of this movie at a film festival in Toronto – the story goes she cried off with the excuse she had a sore throat. All legitimate, I’m sure, but not a good sign for your directorial debut. The movie storyline’s simple: Young girl wants to break free from slightly control-freak mother and living in a deathly quiet town, so deceives everyone and attends rollerball a few towns away while supposedly doing extra study. Needless to say, she’s kinda geeky, and picked on. But the film goes on to show her mastering rollerskating and becomes the team mascot cum pin-up girl. This film’s really girl power on skates. And the story’s easily told in an hour. That it then stretches on for another hour. Sure, it’ll make you chuckle once or twice. Unfortunately, Drew Barrymore sends up her character with endless pratfalls, which become increasingly over-acted. And the team coach – “Razor� is just as over-acted as Barrymore. Elsewhere there’s some not bad acting, but this film is too long for its own good. Sorry Time Out, I don’t agree – this is not a 4 star movie. 4 star movies (like “The Hurt Locker�) win 6 Oscars. “Avatar� was rated as 2 stars by Time Out, and went on to win 2 Oscars. Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for “The Blind Side� this year – and it was rated a 2 star movie. “Whip It!� isn’t going to win Oscars. Given it was shown at film festivals last autumn, if it was that good a movie it would have been released in time to get included in the Oscar nominations just gone. This is really a made for TV movie. If I were you, if someone offers you a ticket, do what Drew Barrymore did – say you have a sore throat or, if you’re forced to go, take some Beechams powders to ease the pain of the second hour. Like I say, if 2 star movies win Oscars, then this is a 1 star movie.

I watched this in HKG with my friend and we both laughed so hard. The storyline is simple but the acting was superb! Ellen Page was the main reason I want to watch this but others were all very good!