Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut met my heart with shrills of “more Ellen Page,” with mounting excitement (after viewing Netflix’s “Very Long Wait” status), with an 8-year old’s jubilant bounce when I saw it at Best Buy for 50% off (only $9.99) and finally with saddening disappointment as it attempted to reach various highpoints, only to fall victim to cliches and poor acting.
Ellen Page plays Bliss Cavendar, a character as hip and independent as Juno, but without the tongue-savvy eloquence. She’s somewhat a slave to her beauty pagent-loving mother (played by Macia Gay Harden). One day she sees some tattoo-wielding roller derby girls and attempts to prove her best friend Pash (played by Alia Shawkat) wrong by auditioning for the preeminently underdog team, the Hurl Scouts.
There’s Smashly Simpson (Drew Barrymore), Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis), Rosa Sparks (Eve), Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig), Bloody Holly (Zoe Bell), Eva Destruction (Ari Graynor) and Babe Ruthless (Ellen Page). The names are fun, the energy is high (at times), and there is something sexy,… very sexy about girls being tough and headstrong.
Bliss Cavendar finds her passion in roller derby, and instead of giving non-derby-watching audiences a better understanding of the rules and competitive progression of the Hurl Scouts, screenwriter Shauna Cross (and director Barrymore) give us, even though some chemistry is present, an awkward courtship between Bliss and indie-rocker Oliver (played by Landon Pigg).
Let me explain myself a bit – –
- Climbing through a window to have a very PG-13 sexual first in a lit-up pool. Not your normal kanoodling; we’re talking about overly romantic, fully submersed aquatic relations with Page’s skinny bod desperately trying to stay submerged (let’s not forget that we are aware that her character wears contacts and couldn’t possibly keep her eyes open for that amount of time).
- Also, when the very intimidating Iron Maven instigates what would realistically be a full-fledged cat fight, playfully becomes a benign food fight, despite the gutsy and “Ruthless” tackling by Bliss on Maven.
- Band frontman Oliver and derby “Jammer” Bliss are laying on Oliver’s car hood. When it’s time for Bliss to get to practice, he checks his pockets to find that his keys are lost, somewhere in the large wheat field. Miraculously, through a game of Marco Polo, Oliver finds them… and then (obviously because he wants to keep Bliss longer) he throws his keys back into the field, creating a moment that (to me) would have meant something along the lines of an immediate castration. But later on in the film, Bliss draws the “line in the sand” over him not returning her call. Go figure.
Most of this film, we’ve seen before, but it’s a more-than-decent flick that continues to display the wonderful talents of Ellen Page. Kristen Wiig is also sensational. More of a drama than a comedy, Whip It entertained, but did not impress.
Ellen Page should not have turned down Drag Me To Hell to play this movie, but then again Whip It, without Page, would have been something very frustrating. It would probably be like when you come home from school and you press power on your old-school Nintendo and you get nothing. You blow inside the gate, you blow the game inputs, and it leaves you with nothing; empty and depressed…all day long.
Glad that wasn’t the case.
What were your thoughts on Whip It?