Friday, 9 April 2010

Whip It - Review

Perhaps it doesn't say much for the film when I approach the box office of the cinema and forget the name of the movie I intend to see, "One for Hit It? Twist It? Whack It?...Bop It?" After a series of failed guesses the kind lady at the front desk corrects me and off I go. Marking her debut venture in the director's chair, Drew Barrymore presents Whip It.

The story tells the delightfully quirky tale of an indie-rock loving misfit named Bliss Cavender (Ellen Page) who finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery of a controlling mother with an obsession for beauty pageants, after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin.

Taking similar cues from Ellen Page's other indie smash hit, Juno, I must admit I found myself enjoying this film a lot more than expected. Perhaps even more so than Juno on the basis Page's character in Whip It was ten times more likable. Based on my own interpretation I didn't think Bliss was intentionally a rebellious type, nor did she particularly hate her mother, she is - like many - just someone who hadn't found her place in the world quite yet. You would almost believe this was Page playing a character who was more akin to her own personality, which I found rather endearing.

Where the film tended to shine however was in the amazingly colourful support cast of quirky, psychotic, eccentric roller derby skaters such as the brilliant Kristen Wiig as Page's mentor Maggie Mayhem, along with the rest of her team-mates feautring director, Drew Barrymore, being the stand-out performer. Anyone who has visited the cinema in the past year I'm sure will be happy to see Juliette Lewis in something that wasn't Fingrz Of Fury (surprised the advert wasn't shown before the movie actually...). Other notable performances should go to Andrew Wilson - brother of Luke and Owen - as the hilarious coach of Bliss' roller derby team, The Hurl Scouts, Marcia Harden as Bliss' controlling mother and Jimmy Fallon as 'Hot Tub' Johnny Rocket, the roller derby commentator/host.

What I thought screenwriter Shauna Cross captured brilliantly was the under-dog element of the film as oppose to going completely gung-ho with the 'girl power' themes, which could have so easily alienated the male members of the audience. It almost conjured memories of Disney's The Mighty Ducks films - a childhood favourite of mine - which actually left me, at times, genuinely smiling as well as actually laughing.

The film however did faultier on the basis the you will surely have seen it all before and will be able to hazard a guess how the story unfolds within the first 20 minutes. There was nothing new or original about how it was shot nor the choice of music featured in the soundtrack, regardless I would still recommend it to anyone planning on going to the cinema this week.

Final Thoughts
A fun, albeit, standard, indie comedy/drama full of the trademark quirks and nuances seen in countless others before it. However with brilliant performances from Ellen Page and the supporting cast it just about gets away with it. A solid directorial debut from Drew Barrymore, which makes me wonder what else she is capable of. Whip It? Bop It? Twist it? Hit It? Pull It? Who cares, just go See it!


See This If You Liked...
Away We Go, Juno, The Mighty Ducks?

Whip It is in cinemas nationwide now.

1 comment:

The Kid In The Front Row said...

Cool review - it's a really nice film. Not sure I agree with your assessment of Drew Barrymore's performance! Although I do agree re: underdog themes rather than going off into girl power mode, hehe- well observed, that is interesting..

Loved Ellen Page in this though, she's such a talent.