Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Here's To Hoping Roller Derby Whips Itself Into Oblivion

Sports movies have taken on many diverse subjects, both the life of and the death of an athlete has been portrayed on the silver screen, many of the best sports stars have had their life story told on the screen. Hollywood considers this a lucrative thing and has given us serious stories and even some on the not so serious side. One of the newest not so serious movies is "Whip It", directed by first timer Drew Barrymore, and tells the story of a poor little rich girl turned rebel when she notices a new and exciting sport for the first time. Women's roller derby. No I swear, women's roller derby. Women have been entertaining the masses on skates for longer than men but for this movie the idea comes as a new and very exciting prospect.

Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is the apple of her mothers eye, Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden) thinks her daughter should be winning more beauty pageants, but Bliss thinks she just doesn't fit in. Shania (Eulala Scheel) Bliss's younger sister seems to win almost every one that she enters, while dad, Earl (Daniel Stern) just sits at home being the support the family needs. he is an easy going man who lets mom decide just about everything. One day when mom takes the two girls shopping, Bliss notices several girls riding around on skates, they leave flyer's for a roller derby event and Bliss grabs one.

The night of the derby Bliss gets her friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) to drive her to Austin so she can watch the derby, Bliss is so taken with it that she gets up the nerve to approach one of the women, Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) when Bliss tells her that she is her new role model, Maggie tells her to put some skates on. Of course that is the start of the standard cliche sports moment, it reads like a litany of standard cliches. 1 the team is so bad that they have yet to win a game, but the new girl joins the team and they not only start to win but make the championship game. 2 the family of the star know nothing about what he or she is up to but will find out and be against it, until they realize just how important it is to that person, and lastly the person will face an obstacle that will mean they are going to be barred from the big game but at the last minute all is swell and they get to play anyway.

The team rallies around Bliss and helps her out, Bloody Holly (Zoe Bell), Rosa Sparks (Eve), Smashley Simpson (Drew Barrymore) and even a competitor Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis) all seem to be looking out for Bliss. Although it is Maven who originally threatens to blow the whistle on Bliss. When Earl confronts Brooke and tells her he isn't about to let his daughter be unhappy, that if derby is what she wants then she will get to be in the derby. The only thing that doesn't fall into the standard cliche is the ending, but now so many movies are starting this trend it is slowly becoming the new cliche.

Along the way Bliss falls in love with Colby (Doug Minckiewicz), the lead singer of his brothers band, but falls out of love just as quickly, will that become the second new cliche? Here's to hoping not. The movie ends with the family all happy, the fans happy and even the athletes themselves happy. Everyone is happy except the person who paid nine dollars to see this trite boringly dull movie. This isn't to say that Drew Barrymore does a bad job of directing, she does a fantastic job, she doesn't center the screen on her character as much as some directors would have done, she leaves the others to tell the story, her character, Smashley is almost an after thought. This movie should have been an after thought itself.

I give Whip it a 2 and on my avoidance scale a 1, wait a few months and you can watch this dud at your leisure, on one of those cold snowy winter nights, when its to clod to do anything but curl up in front of the fire, then when your done watching this DVD you can throw it into the fire as well.

Whip It is rated PG-13 for Sexual Content including Crude Dialogue, Language and Drug Material
Running time is 1 hr. 51 mins.

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