Thursday, October 01, 2009

Whip It Real Good

Whip It is based on a novel about a young girl who joins the roller derby.
Whip It is not based on the classic Devo tune. But still...♫ "Whip It good!"

Girl Fight! Don't worry. Drew even uses herself as comic punching bag

For her fictional novel turned movie, writer Shauna Cross drew from her own experiences as derby girl "Maggie Mayhem" and imagined what it would have been like to discover this alternative grrrl world as a young woman. So Whip It introduces us to Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page), a sad eyed highschooler who is eager to get out of BoDeen Texas and into the big city. In this particular case that's Austin, Texas, which just happens to be the spot where roller derby resurrected itself a decade ago. Bliss doesn't share her mom's (Marcia Gay Harden) tenacious dream of beauty pageants. She doesn't even exactly share her best friend's (Alia Shawkat) college plans. Bliss is basically a dreamer without a dream, until a serendipitous sighting of derby girls passing out homemade competition flyers sparks a fire inside of her.


Bliss hungrily learns everything about this new world of self-made skating "stars" like Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig), Smashley Simpson (Drew Barrymore) and undefeated derby champ Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis). With their oversized personalities and theatrical names, it's rather easy to view all of this as an elaborate drag competition on skates...

Read the rest of my review at Towleroad
*

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Be aware, Lee Daniels, Gabby Sidibe, Mo'nique and Mariah Carey will visit Oprah Winfrey show next NOVEMBER 2

It's going to be amazing show, like Nicole-Hugh with 'Australia' or the 'Dreamgirls' team.

Juno101 said...

has anyone been hearing about this movie? I've only seen like 5 commercials of it and the last time I saw a commercial for this was probably a week ago. It seems quiet with the advertising.

City_Of_Lights said...

Andrew Wilson. I'm there.

Hugo said...

Forget about Drag Queens, the Rollerderby is a major lesbian friendly sport. I'm expecting at least a couple of lesbian characters here and if not I will be sourly disappointed.

And I'm not even a lesbian, or a straight guy. But to each its own, and that's the deal for Rollerdykeby

Dom said...

Nathaniel, I feel you are being reaaaaally generous with your grade. I saw an early screening of Whip It last week and it feel flat.

I so wanted to like it...

But the direction was sloppy as hell (unjustified low or high camera angles with very little access to the eyeline of the actors, using medium shots when closer shots would be more emotionally effective or wider shots would enhance the comedy) and the pacing is completely off (the editor seems fond of cutting away from characters mid-sentence when maybe they should hold on a little longer). I mean, Drew Barrymore has Ellen Page and Maeb... I mean Alia Shawkat on the screen together and the audience I saw it with hardly ever chuckled. A lot of the jokes fell flat and the comedy seemed forced, particularly Barrymore's performance. The woman actually directed her actors well, but geez she cannot direct herself.

The roller derby scenes were fun and I was certainly intrigued by the sport, but I feel a better directed could have done more with them.

Finally, the script. Having someone adapt their own book sometimes work, most often when the writer has written for the screen before. Shauna Cross could have used a hand here. I agree with you though that the romance was the worst element.

I cannot dispute that Juliette Lewis kicks ass. But I wanted more of her! More of the Hurl Scouts! More of Ari Gaynor! But so many characters were just glossed over.

Anyway, just my 2 cents...

Man, I wanted to like this movie. Bad ass chicks kicking ass and taking names? Usually that means "sign me up immediately!". But now, all I felt was... blah. And the more I think about it... yeah. I'm gonna stop doing that.

NATHANIEL R said...

Hugo... if you read the whole review you'd notice i do comment on this.

Dom... if a movie makes you feel generous, more power to it. One of the things i liked best about it was Drew and Shauna's generosity: most movies simplify characters and character agendas to the point where they force you into positions of judgment for and rooting against. I consider it major points in the film's favor that it loves all of its characters and wants you to feel for all of them, even the antagonists.

I can't dispute some of your issues with it -- i definitely agree about the pacing and about characters that i wanted more of (though i think the latter is kind of a compliment) but i thoroughly enjoyed it.

denparser said...

I like it.. I only saw it's trailer. I am waiting for its full movie.

adelutza said...

I liked it. I think for a first time director is really something. It runs like two hours and I never felt bored the whole time. It's not a masterpiece all right, but compared with the other mainstream films of this year, this is one of the better ones.
Not to mention that I got a t-shirt at the screening and I found out about the local Roller Derby teams. I might even give it a try lol

Stella said...

OT: Can I mention briefly how ridiculously happy I am to see Ben Whishaw on your front page profile picture-montage?

Walter L. Hollmann said...

So good! It's certainly a flawed film, but I couldn't help enjoying it. Many of us teared up multiple times - so it MUST be good.

Sam Kaufman said...

Under normal circumstances I would have thought that Ellen Page has a really annoying way about her, but she actually did a great job in this movie; all around Whip It rocked.