Whip It Like Page
You would imagine from having been in the movie industry for most of her life Drew Barrymore has picked up a few tips from directors and whilst her directional debut "Whip It" is not going to set the world alight it is solid entertainment with no major directional problems. But it does have issues and that unfortunately is the unoriginal storyline which for me felt like someone had watched "Bend it Like Beckham" and decided to remake it with Women's Roller Derby being the sport rather than football. I say issues but in truth "Whip It" isn't terrible but a movie which when not on the skating track ends up far too familiar and cliche.
In the small town of Bodeen, Texas, Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) has to put up with her pushy mother Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden) who believes that beauty pageants are the way for Bliss to go, to have a chance in life. Bliss thinks otherwise and after discovering a roller derby league in Austin decides to secretly try out getting selected because of her speed on 8 wheels. But Bliss has to keep her new, often violent pastime a secret and with her also falling for Oliver (Landon Pigg) who sings in a rock band it is only a matter of time before her parents discover what is going on and things blow up.
On the whole "Whip It" works, the plot line which sees Bliss finding a passion for roller derby is a good one as we have the entertainment of the various rough girls who skate. We also have some depth to this as Bliss's new found passion brings problems from her parents being disappointed in her lies to her best friend Pash feeling ignored when Bliss clears off with Oliver. And of course with it being a sports movie there has to be the big game where Bliss has to come good, etc etc etc. As I said it works and for young audiences it will be entertaining but for those who know there movies will see that all of these elements are standard cliches already explored in other movies such as "Bend it Like Beckham". That means that whilst it does throw in a few twists it is for the most obvious and predictable.
But even if you do feel like "Whip It" is just different skin on old bones it still entertains thanks to the sheer visual treat of roller derby. Again some of it feels cliche such as the Manson sisters being a homage to "Slap Shot" but watching these girls speed around the track, barging people into barriers and off the track whilst acting tough is fun. And most of the fun comes from all the characters and there amusing names such as Maggie Mayhem, Babe Ruthless and Jaba the Slut. Hats off to Drew Barrymore because the roller derby scenes are entertaining and they are what makes the movie enjoyable even when everything else feels cliche.
It also helps that "Whip It" has a good cast and whilst Ellen Page is solid as she appears in 99% of the scenes it is as much the supporting cast which make it good such as Juliette Lewis playing it catty whilst Andrew Wilson as the teams coach is off beat but not ridiculous. But in truth the stand out performance or at least the one which grabs your attention is Zoe Bell who plays Bloody Holly because as a stunt woman she delivers the skating brilliantly but she also steals some scenes with her fun acting.
What this all boils down to is that "Whip It" is a lot of fun especially when we are being treated to some roller derby action. But unfortunately the actual storyline of a daughter, a pushy mum and so on is too similar to "Bend it Like Beckham" for my liking.