Monday, October 19, 2009

Whip It

Roller Cool
Originally uploaded by jimkirks
Bliss Cavender is living in her mother’s shadow; a senior in high school and clearly not the beauty pageant type she obediently shuffles from pageant to pageant because her mother insists she can learn from it. However, on a trip to Austin Bliss discovers the world of roller derby and decides to try out; before she knows it Bliss is a Hurl Scout and has to lie to her team about her age and telling her parents she is spending her extra time at a SAT class. On the track Bliss and the Hurl Scouts are finally making a name for themselves and getting closer to taking down the Holy Rollers.

I can’t quite tell you how much I loved this movie, the best way I can sum it up is that when the credits rolled I was utterly proud to be a girl. From Bliss to Maggie Mayhem every type of modern woman is represented in Whip It and I think the reason this story is told so well is because it is made by a woman.

Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut with Whip It and I hope she gets a chance for an encore. While Whip It has some flaws in the editing of the action sequences (which are hard even in a seasoned director’s hands), Barrymore proves she truly is the Hollywood sponge that you would think she is. This is a woman whose heritage is movies, from her family to her earliest jobs she had the masters of cinema surrounding her and she paid attention. What is so incredible about Whip It is that the performances are perfectly executed and captured; this is not an Oscar-bait kind of movie but from Daniel Stern to Alia Shawkat, every performance in the film is spot-on and delivered by actors that trusted their director and a director that knew how to get them to the core of their character.

Perhaps I have a soft spot for Barrymore but my single favorite character was Smashley Simpson. It is hard for a long time actor to take the reins as a director and act in their own movie; some overextend themselves and give themselves to big a part. I am glad to say Barrymore didn’t do this. She gave herself a supporting role with Smashley Simpson, the tempestuous team captain of the Hurl Scouts. Smashley is the most memorable character in Whip It, she has the best lines, the most memorable moments and might be my favorite Barrymore character.

Whip It is a movie that won’t have a lot of longevity in terms of box office, but it will grow a following quite steadily, especially on DVD. This is a film with heart, wit, and whimsy. The film is a cult film in the making and makes me want to try my own had at the world of roller derby.

Director: Drew Barrymore
Writer: Shauna Cross
Bliss Cavender: Ellen Page
Pash: Alia Shawkat
Brooke Cavender: Marcia Gay Harden
Shania Cavender: Eulala Scheel
Earl Cavender: Daniel Stern
Johnny Rocket: Jimmy Fallon
Maggie Mayhem: Kristen Wiig
Bloody Holly: Zoe Bell
Smashley Simpson: Drew Barrymore
Razor: Andrew Wilson
Iron Maven: Juliette Lewis

Razor: Yeah, let's celebrate mediocrity! That's fantastic.

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