Going into watch Whip It, the the Drew Barrymore-produced flick about roller derby girls, I had little to no expectations. And that’s probably the best mindset, as you’ll never be disappointed! However, I was definitely not disappointed but pleasantly satisfied with the movie!
So yes, the Ellen Page-led film about a female ragtag roller derby team in Austin, TX is actually pretty dang good. It has the same offbeat feel as Juno, but doesn’t have the snarky quips that make you want to pull off your ears. All in all, it’s a genuine, fun, funny, well-acted and well-scored movie.
The story of the teen girl rebelling against her parents and entering into her own is familiar. Here, the girl is Bliss Cavendar, a restless outsider guilt tripped into beauty pageants and white dresses by her old-fashioned Southern mom Brooke (played with icy aplomb by Marcia Gay Harden) in small town Bodeen, TX. Her football-obsessed dad Earl (played by Daniel Stern, one half of Home Alone‘s Sticky Bandits!) is pretty much no help as he’s passive and thoroughly whipped.
Bliss finds her niche in an Austin roller derby league, joining the bottom feeding team The Hurl Scouts under the moniker Babe Ruthless. From here the movie’s plot is fairly predictable but entertaining nonetheless. The characters are flawed yet endearing and played by notables such as Barrymore, SNL’s Kirsten Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, Alia Shawkat, Eve, Andrew Wilson (bro of Luke and Owen) and Juliette Lewis as the derby’s top dog and Bliss’ nemesis.
And as a music enthusiast, the film’s score is pretty great with Landon Pigg (who also plays Page’s love interest) Jens Lekman, Tilly and the Wall, Kings of Leon, The Ramones, MGMT and Dolly Parton providing the musical soundtrack for the coming of age tale. Whip It = Good!