Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Whip It”

(Fox Searchlight. 1 hour, 51 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual content including crude dialogue, language and drug material. Directed by Drew Barrymore.) Ellen Page (Bliss Cavendar), Alia Shawkat (Pash), Marcia Gay Harden (Brooke Cavender), Daniel Stern (Earl Cavender), Kristen Wiig (Maggie Mayhem), Drew Barrymore (Smashley Simpson). Music by The Section Quartet.

Bliss (Page), a girl in the small Texas town of Bodeen, finds an escape from her overbearing mother in the form of a roller derby flier. Clad in Barbie roller skates and lying about her age, she tries out for the Hurl Scouts, a team in nearby Austin, and begins her second life as Babe Ruthless.

Though it does contain some of the old sports-movie clichés (underdog team rallies around talented rookie, outside problems threaten to sideline said rookie, etc.), Whip It’s solid cast, good writing and strong performances buoy the film. Page is quite a talented actress, easily switching gears from her usually timid persona during the day to her “badass in training” nights. Wiig and Barrymore, along with stunt woman Zoe Bell (Death Proof), rapper Eve and Andrew Wilson (older brother to Luke and Owen), form a convincingly scrappy but supportive team. Harden is proud and driven as Bliss’s mom, and Stern is great as Bliss’s secretly supportive dad. The film deftly balances the two halves of its narrative, paralleling Bliss’s maturation with the evolution of the Hurl Scouts as a team. The action in the rink is exhilarating, and makes me want to seek out the local league. It’s empowering without being overbearing, funny without being too silly and emotional without being sappy. An invigorating sports film from rookie director Barrymore.

Share

Jared Counts

Digital Technology Manager

Jared Counts moved to Houston in 1995, survived high school and college, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston with a degree in Communications (Media Production) and a minor in Film Studies. After being hired part-time at KUHF Radio in early 2003, he proceeded to bounce between...

More Information