Thursday, October 1, 2009

Box Office Review - Whip It

Whip It is another in a long line of underdog sports movies. While the film doesn’t succeed in shedding any of the genre clichés, it does succeed in being very funny and entertaining. The film is the standard build a character up, break them down, and then build them back up stronger and with less baggage. If that doesn’t make sense to you, you have been lucky enough to miss many sport movies over the years. The thing that Whip It has going for it is that the sport of Roller Derby is one that few films have been made about.

Ellen Page stares as the lead named Bliss. She after feeling unfilled in her young life stumbles upon her true calling Roller Derby. Her mother played by Marcia Gay Harden is the opposing force in the film. She has been pushing Bliss into beauty pageants, so Page’s character must keep her Roller Derby escapades a secret. If you’re thinking that these are two very good actresses you would be correct. Their performances here are as good as any of their past work. Whip It would be lucky enough to have just these two names in the film, but it was also able to assemble a great supporting cast. Daniel Stern plays Bliss’s stand offish father. He was very well suited for the role and I liked his character arc a lot. Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) is Bliss’s coworker and best friend. She is surprisingly good in the film. The rest of the main female characters comprise the Roller Derby team The Hurl Scouts, oh and there is Julliette Lewis as Page’s enemy Iron Maven. The Hurl Scouts are Kristen Wiig, Drew Barrymore, Zoe Bell, as well as some real Roller Derby Players. There are a few other noteworthy actors such as Jimmy Fallon as Hot Tub Johnny, and Andrew “Future Man” Wilson as the Hurl Scouts coach. It is surprising to me that Wilson is not in more movies. If it is by choice, that’s fine. But if he just isn’t getting offers people need to smarten up and realise this guy is fantastic. He needs to be in more films.

With a good cast like this it would be easy to overlook some of the faults of the film, but there are some glaring ones that need to be addressed. The editing for one is rather poor. The entire film feels a little disjointed. For example Page’s character in one scene states that she is late and is going to get in trouble with her mom. The next scene then shows her with her mom and it appears like everything is eh okay. It is as if the previous scene never happened which was very strange. Another problem is the love story between Page and newcomer Landon Pigg. It feels very cliché and unnecessary throughout the course of the film. The pool scene is where it peaks in its stupidness. Page’s Character and Pigg’s character break into a public pool and then proceeded to take each other’s clothes off in the pool. It appeared very awkward and was a bizarre choice of scene. It is a cliché teen movie thing that I could have done without. At least in the end their relationship helps shape Pages character.

This was directed by Drew Barrymore and is her first feature. The scenes of Roller Derby are thrilling and fast paced. It is easy to get into the action that is on the screen. The laughs are big and frequent and the movie is a good time. Most people have seen sports movies like this and even though it may be bit repetitious of previous films I find it hard to believe that an audience would not be able to root for and support the character of Bliss Cavendar. As a first feature Barrymore could have done much much worse and I look forward to see what she does next from the director’s chair. Though I had a few problems with the film I had a very good time watching it and it is one of the more enjoyable theatre experiences in a while.

A Good Banana

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