In small town Bodeen, Texas Bliss Cavender (Ellen Paige) is living out her teenage life as an experiment for her mother played by Marcia Gay Harden. An outsider from most, Bliss is forced to attend beauty pageant, after beauty pageant. But in her heart she wants romance, and excitement. Bliss finds both in the little appreciated sport of the Roller Derby. In those nightly sessions under the player name Babe Ruthless, Bliss finds her true meaning, fighting and playing alongside her roller sisters in the worst team in the championship. But at a time when things could not be better a series of events begin to close in on Bliss forcing her to make some of the toughest decisions of her young life.
Drew Barrymore’s directorial movie debut Whip It is one of the best feel good comedy dramas for a very long time. Whip It has the potential to do for the Roller Derby, what Karate Kid did for martial arts.
The story is simplistic, and to be fair fairly unoriginal, but following a time honored tale of good over evil, and victory and dignified loss. From the opening minutes you can pave out the full movies direction, but this despite what it may seem does not make the movie any less desirable; it still draws you in. Above all things the movie is a tale of morality that poses all the questions and scenarios we all face at some point during our early stages of becoming an adult.
It’s the performers that really make the piece, from Ellen Paige in fairness playing her usual quirky girl out of place role, to the first decent return to acting for years from the legend that is Juliette Lewis. Its Lewis that stands head and shoulders above the characters not necessarily for her acting, or the character she plays, but for the pure “Where the Hell has she been!” style scenario, and an overall appreciation of how much power she brings to a motion picture simply by just being in it. Barrymore steps from behind the character to play one of the team, and positions herself firmly in the role of screwball eccentric player, never one to let anything go passed. All round funny girl Kristen Wiig also has a strong supporting role.
Whip It soundtrack is an exotic mix of pop and indie tracks that dominate the film, from MGMT to more traditional country songs, from the known to the unknown. The blend of music highlights the movies compelling nature.
Whip It is a movie that is fairly hard to write about, it contains a certain hollowness that is not necessarily a weakness. Sometimes its those movies that offer the least content that create some of the best memories, and Whip It will achieve an instant cult following in the same way Juno and Nick & Norah’s Infinite playlist have in the hearts of teenagers’ and twentysomethings across the world.