Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Roadshow Entertainment
Available now on DVD and Blu-ray

Sisters are doing it for themselves in Drew Barrymore's enjoyable directorial debut, Whip It!, a coming-of-age tale of sorts centred around the sport of women's roller derby. Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is an adolescent less than enthused with her life in Bodeen, Texas, which consists of after school employment at the local burger joint and appearing in pageants at the behest of her mother (Marcia Gay Harden).

But while on a shopping trip to nearby Austin she discovers roller derby and a new possibility is glimpsed. Bliss gets her childhood skates out of mothballs and tries out for a spot with the team, the Hurl Scouts. Her speed more than makes up for her size (Ms Page is no gazelle) and she is recruited and given the moniker Babe Ruthless (all roller derby competitors have pseudonyms eg Smashley Simpson, Iron Maven).

Of course, Bliss's parents are kept blissfully unaware of their daughter's new found passion but you know it won't be long before that is rectified and things comes to a head. There is also Bliss's first romance and falling out with her best friend – these types of films have a blueprint after all. But Barrymore manages to keep it fresh without doing anything particularly new. It helps that her cast - predominantly female, naturally – including Juliette Lewis, Kristen Wiig and Eve, seem to be having so much fun.

It also helps that Barrymore secured Ellen Page as her lead. Page, so wonderful in Juno, again plays the somewhat alternate teen but makes Bliss different to the mouthy Juno, as well as to those girls she played in Smart People (a young Republican) and Hard Candy (an avenging angel of sorts). And I confess, I have a soft spot for Page and could watch her in most anything.

Whip It! doesn't go anywhere coming-of-age or sports films haven't been before, nor does it do it any better. But it's fun and involving. Girls of all ages will be emboldened and there's enough action so the guys won't be bored. But it's not about the boys – Girl Power!

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