So Drew Barrymore tries her hand at directing and what does she choose to do? How about a little girl-on-girl chick flick starring a former pregnant high schooler as a roller derby queen? Of course! And that is basically what “Whip It” is…a nice, little love story about being young & growing into your own skin. The high schooler is Ellen Page, formerly of “Juno” fame, and she plays Bliss, a 17-year old with a mother who believes that real beauty wins pageants and a father who believes what’s best is to keep quiet and not rock the boat. With these types of parents, who can blame her for looking elsewhere to find her true self. And find it she does with a band of “rowdies” who skate every weekend in a Texas roller derby competition. We get to watch her as she tries out for the team, makes the team, becomes one of the stars of the league and leads her team to the championship! It’s all very exciting and there are plenty of lessons to be learned along the way.
Overall performances are very good with many capable actresses doing excellent jobs with their thankless roles. Marcia Gay Harden plays the mom who has some issues. Turns out, she just wants what’s best for her daughter. The derby girls include Barrymore, Kristen Wigg, Eve, Juliette Lewis (as the villain, Iron Maven) and Ari Graynor, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite “indie” comedy actresses after “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist”. The male actors include Daniel Stern as the dad, Landon Pigg as the love interest and Jimmy Fallon is funny as the ringside announcer.
I really enjoyed this movie. I watched it on a plane on a long flight home and it kept my interest (unlike “The Invention Of Lying”, which put me to sleep) and I really liked almost all of the characters. Page is perfect for this role, with her schoolgirl charm and her innocent looks. She even gets to be a little sexy as she finds true love with a lead singer of a band and seduces him in a dreamy swimming pool scene. And the thing I like most about Page is her subtle performance. She takes a character that could have been one dimensional and made her quite interesting, even when the script might not have been. This really is a movie for the ladies, but I thought it was very entertaining and I would recommend it highly as a good date night flick with the wife!
I could go into more detail, but what’s the point. I think you get the idea. “Whip It” is a fun diversion for the ladies and not such a bad choice for the guys. I’m not saying it’s gonna win an Oscar, but it’s certainly watchable and quite entertaining!
Overall Rating: B