When I first saw Ellen Page in her Academy nominated performance in Juno, I thought she was funny, but had a lot of talent as well. Since Juno co-starred Michael Cera, I had a bad feeling she was going to play the same typecast role as he’s continued to do and only benefited from a brilliantly written script from Diablo Cody. Thankfully she is anything but playing the same type roles. In our Films U Missed section, I read that she was really good in Hard Candy (a must watch for me) and judging from the trailer for Whip It, it’s safe to say she’s very dynamic. The biggest surprise that came to me when I first read up on Whip It is that it’s directed by none other than Drew Barrymore. Her only other directing credit is a 2004 TV documentary called Choose or Lose Presents: The Best Place to Start. I think it’s a good thing she’s going behind the camera. I would like to see what she brings to the table. I have no idea why the movie is called Whip It, perhaps it’s a term that’s used in roller derby, which the movie focuses on. The only time I’ve heard the term before was the 1980 hit by Devo. I’m assuming the film will explain the title choice.
Page plays Bliss Cavendar, a teen suffering from living in a small Texas town called Bodeen. After failing to make an impact in the beauty pageant circuit (forced upon her by her parents), she seeks an alternative interest outside of school to cure her boredom. While shopping in a thrift store, she is approached by a group of girls skating into the store and handing her a flier about a roller derby league in Austin. She attends the event and soon enough, joins up. She naturally struggles with it at first and doesn’t receive approval from her parents, played by Daniel Stern (Home Alone) and Marcia Gay Harden (The Mist). She loves roller derby, but has to deal with the pressure from her parents of going against their discretion and gaining the brutal physical and mental aspects other players possess in her chosen passion.
The movie co-stars Kristin Wiig (Adventureland), Juliette Lewis (From Dusk Till Dawn), rapper Eve (Barbershop 2: Back in Business), Jimmy Fallon (Fever Pitch), Zoe Bell (Death Proof) and Barrymore herself. As mentioned before, Whip It is directed by Barrymore and this will essentially be her debut film behind the camera. The movie is adapted from the book, “Derby Girl,” which was written by Shauna Cross, who actually played roller derby. Cross adapted the screenplay herself and she also wrote the script for a film called Taking 5.
I’m still undecided on seeing this and it will definitely be a game-time decision to do so. This looks to be a hit for female audiences and perhaps I’ll feel left out of the mix. Whip It should be big considering Page’s star power. Barrymore, who also serves as an executive producer, hopes this movie will turn toward the box office and Whip It, Whip It Good!
Whip It opens October 2nd.