Movie Review – Whip It (2009)


Year of Release: 2009

Stars:  Ellen PageDrew Barrymore and Kristen Wiig

Verdict: 3/5

 

Be your own hero! What an apt tag-line for the movie.

This movie is based on a book by the same name and marks the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore. And unexpectedly she has done a pretty good job of it.

It is a story of a small town average girl Bliss (Ellen Page) with a pretty boring life. She works as a part-time waitress along with her best friend Pash. Both of them feel stuck up in the in the small town and want to break free, experience the big city life and do exciting things. But there obviously are hurdles in their fairy tale.

Bliss is enduring the weight of her mothers’ dreams & aspirations. Her mother wants her to participate in and win beauty pageants and participate in society galas just as she did when she was younger. She thinks that that is a perfect path for her girls to follow. While Bliss’s younger sister is happy living the dream, Bliss is different. She wants more out of live than winning boring beauty pageants where one is at their impeccable best. She goes along with the drudgery until one day she stumbles upon something very exciting.

She gets to know about a Roller Derby league in the nearby city, Austin. She’s fascinated and decides to try it out. As it turns out she is excellent in it and for the first time in her life finds something she is truly passionate about.

Now the real trouble begins. She lies about her age, the reasons for her absence from home twice a week etc. etc.

In between all the lying, she falls for a guy for the first time in her life, enjoys and lives her life to the fullest, gets to live her passion, rise to the top of the game and basically be happy.

Trouble brews when her team reaches the finals for the 1st time. The tournament and her mother’s dream beauty pageant are on the same day. It’s a roller coaster ride thereafter. With the cat out of the bag, she struggles with the explanations and expectations of her parents and her team mates.

Ellen Page as always is brilliant and carries the movie on her tender shoulders. We could’ve done away with Drew Barrymore’s character though. All the other actors have also played their part well, especially Bliss’s best friend Pasha.

It isn’t a classic like other sports dramas like Coach Carter, The Fighter etc. but none the less a feel good motivating movie.

Trivia:

  • IMDB Rating – 7/10
  • Ellen Page dropped out of Drag Me to Hell to be in this film.
  • “Whip It” was written by Shauna Cross, a former Roller Derby skater with the Los Angeles Derby Dolls. Cross skated under the name Maggie Mayhem with a team of rouge cops called the Sirens. Many of the teams, skaters, names and plot lines were inspired by Cross’ time with the Derby Dolls.
  • The fictional TXRD team ‘Hurl Scouts’ were based on the ‘Tough Cookies’ from Los Angeles: both teams share a green uniform and theme based on the Girl Scouts of America.
  • Despite acting in feature films since the age of 5, this film is Drew Barrymore‘s feature film directorial debut.
  • The track used in the movie was built and lent to be used in the movie by a banked track roller derby league from Oklahoma City called Red Dirt Rebellion Rollergirls.
  • At one point in the film, Bliss Cavendar lies about her age being 22 (instead of 17), which is the actual age of Ellen Page, who plays her.
  • Filmed in Detroit, Michigan and many of the skaters in the movie are on Detroit’s Derby team.
  • When Bliss is getting ready for her first big match, Maggie Mayhem tells her that you can never have enough Lash Blast. Lash Blast mascara is a Cover Girl product. Drew Barrymore is a Cover Girl spokesperson.
  • When Iron Maven / Juliette Lewis tells Bliss Ellen Page that she’s 36 years old, that’s Juliette Lewis’ actual age at the time the movie was released.
  • Of the teams featured, only the Holy Rollers are an actual TXRD team.
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