Film Review – Whip It
Whip It – Being a big fan of roller derby, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to see this film. Sad, but true. This film is kind of an exaggerated expose drama on women’s banked-track roller derby in Austin, Texas. A young girl named Bliss, Ellen Page (from Juno fame), lives with her parents in a rural town. Her mother keeps signing her up for beauty pageants with her little sister, but Bliss just wants to experience life. She works at a local diner with her hot friend Pash, played by Alia Shawkat, and their friend Birdman.
Bliss runs into some roller girls while buying new clothes with her mother and grabs one of their flyers. She sneaks away with Pash to go watch derby and falls in love with it (like you do). Bliss shows up for try-outs and makes the team, despite being underage for the league. While her parents think she’s taking an SAT class, Bliss is practicing with the team becoming a phenom. There are after-parties where there’s a lot of drinking and sex and Bliss and Pash get caught up in it, resulting in Bliss getting a boyfriend from a band and Pash getting arrested for underage drinking. Bliss’ parents find out about the roller derby and freak out on her. However, her father watches some videos online of his daughter and realizes that a) this sport is awesome and b) his daughter is really good at this sport. However, the championship bout is the same night as this major pageant, so there’s a pretty major problem.
I like that the basic rules of derby are explained in this film. Yes, some of the rules are outdated and there are serious penalties (punching, tripping, tackling, fighting) that are not called. The acting by Ellen Page, Alia Shawkat, Marcia Gay Harden, and Daniel Stern (probably one of his best acting roles ever, to be honest) is REALLY good. However, the rest of the actors have a lot of unbelievable moments (probably because a lot of them aren’t actual actors and are roller girls – word on the street is the deaf skater isn’t deaf, just a bad actress).
I will be the first to say that I LOATHE Drew Barrymore and the fact that she plays a completely unbelievable idiot in this film only furthers my rage at having to see her on a screen. I applaud her for making this film, but I humbly ask that she hang up her acting hat so I don’t have to scream at her on the screen any more. The film is really innovative, especially since there really hasn’t a big Hollywood film about roller derby. However, the film itself really wasn’t phenomenal, especially due to the acting and the fact that the film took all of the real athleticism out of a sport that I love. It’s probably good for the sport that more people have been exposed to it and now know some of how the game is played, but I’m worried people will get the wrong impression of what Is an actual sport. (And for the record, it is completely accidental that I’ve been seeing everything Alia Shawkat has been in recently. Happy to do so, but still accidental.)
(3 out of 5 fus)