Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Whip It

Directed by Drew Barrymore.
2009. Rated PG-13, 111 minutes.
Ellen Page
Alia Shawkat
Marcia Gay Harden
Kristen Wiig
Juliette Lewis
Drew Barrymore
Jimmy Fallon
Carlo Alban
Ari Graynor
Zoe Bell
Landon Pigg

Plot: Bliss (Page), a small-town Texas high-school girl who hates the pageants her mother makes her compete in, discovers a new passion when she sneaks off to nearby Austin to join a roller-derby league.

The Good: Bliss feels like a real teenager. She’s not over-stylized and ultra-snarky like Juno (also played by Ellen Page). Nor is she super-happy and carefree. Her character is very well written as is that of her mom, played with stern faced resolve by Marcia Gay Harden. First time director Drew Barrymore paces her movie well. This enables the main characters to breath and places the roller derby scenes at nice intervals. And those scenes are quite fun.

The Bad: The relationship between Bliss’ parents is done a disservice. We get hints that there is much more below the surface, but we’re never shown. Basically, this boils down Dad’s reason for existence to one heroic action. Similarly, we learn curiously little about Bliss’ teammates on The Hurl Scouts. There’s plenty of potential for great characters and they’re given great names like Maggie Mayhem (Wiig) and Rosa Sparks (Eve) but it’s never taken advantage of. At the very least, we should’ve gotten to know the aforementioned Maggie a lot better.

The Ugly: Play number three.

Recommendation: It’s kinda the best of both worlds: a chick flick/sports movie. Sure, there are some clichés from both genres present, but it’s fun and engaging. Despite its faults, this is an enjoyable ride and a solid directorial debut for Barrymore.

The Opposite View: James Berardinelli, ReelViews

What the Internet Says: 7.1/10 on imdb.com (5/17/10), 84% on rottentomatoes.com, 68/100 on metacritic.com

MY SCORE: 7/10

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