Sunday, March 07, 2010

Whip It!

"I can grow the balls!"

Written by: Shauna Cross

Directed by: Drew Barrymore

Starring: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Alia Shawkat, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Drew Barrymore

Rating: 9/10

The teen movie is a genre that has always fascinated me with its ability to give profound insight into what it means to be yourself in a time where you're not quite sure what that means and also teen films can act as s a great slice of life from the time and place it is set as it is usually immersed in the pop culture of the time. Look at 80’s teen movies, they’re like time capsules. Whip It!, for me was a brilliant, brilliant teen movie. It features a complicated heroine, Bliss, who despite often making really bad decisions, slowly tries to find out who she is. It also features a wide variety of grown-ups with equally complicated issues. Bliss’s mom, who is a former beauty queen and still incredibly beautiful but works as a postman in the most unflattering uniform ever invented makes for a very sympathetic villain. Kristen Wiig plays Maggie Mayhem, a single mom roller girl who is struggling (quite successfully) not to lose sight of herself in the madness of being a mother.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea about Whip It! It’s not a serious, whingy, moany, emo film, it is the best fun I’ve had in the cinema in ages. Roller derby! Who would’ve thought it could be so cool. Hot girls with silly hair, red lips, short skirts and fishnets. I’m mad up for that!

OK, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Whip It! is a big girlfest right? Well, technically it is. But I'm one hundred percent sure that if I were a man I'd be just as down with this movie as I am now. Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, it's easy to see what attracted her to the script. In some ways it is as full of clichés as any other teen movie but it tends to set up these clichés in order to smash them! Ellen Page, is infinitely more likeable here than usual because the script gives her more to work with than just quippy one-liners. Bliss is a fully fleshed out, complicated character and Page plays her perfectly. The supporting cast are also amazing with Juliette Lewis, Kristen Wiig and Barrymore herself bringing a touch of hilarity and spunk to proceedings. Another thing to admire is the lack of girliness on the roller derby track. The girls are rough, there's plenty of blood and bruises and the stunts are great! Like all good sports movies, the competition sequences were shot with a sense of sweaty mayhem that keeps the audience feeling exhuberant. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I wanna be Drew Barrymore when I grow up!
Cynics may call this film predictable and formulaic but you can't deny it has spark and spunk in spades! The cast are top-notch, the skating sequences are exciting and the script is both intelligent and hilarious. Unless you're dead against this type of movie, you'll have a blast!

- Charlene Lydon 7/3/10

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