Running Time: 1 hr. 51 min.
Release Date: October 2nd, 2009 (wide)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual content including crude dialogue, language and drug material.
Distributors: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by: Drew Barrymore
JJ Rating: A-
Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) does beauty pageants because her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) thinks there is great purpose in doing so. When they go into a store to buy a boot Bliss stumbles upon a flyer for roller derby of the female variety. She’s hooked on seeing and then hooked on trying out. A whole new world opens up before her and she’s enamored. Whip It.
Major kudos to Drew Barrymore in directing. With a great cast that is really female driven as well as a great script she couldn’t go wrong and she didn’t, she went so right that I was amazed by the time the film was over. From the child who saw E.T. to the director of a powerful female leading movie without it having a feminist movement feel is a great accomplishment.
The cast was great. They all played well together. I cannot really think of any amazing standouts because they were just all good. Actually I’d like to state that Alia Shawkat, who played best friend Pash, is a great “new comer” and I state it that way because God knows she’s probably been in something that I don’t know and isn’t that new, but she isn’t well known like most of the cast. Even if you don’t know every cast member’s name you do recognize their face, which is not something you can do with her. She held her own with all these other actresses and that’s a really great thing. She did so well that she didn’t stick out as the new kid.
The are a lot of great things in this film. Aside from the fact that it’s a strong female cast in a film that was just about a sport and not about females beating males into the ground with dreary melodrama, it has great moments. Moments that have to deal with random things like a food fight, a phone call with commentary, a note to mom, a have a good day at school talk in the car, a reveal of age, a playbook share, a shove off a rail, a swimming pool flirt and much, much more. It’s a movie that sneaks up on you and makes you care even though Ellen Page is creeping up on being the same person in almost every film. At least she’s still got that acting that’s still good for the roles she gets. Soon that might not be the case, so hopefully she can do more because I like her.
There are articles, opinions and stuff that state that female characters are not great unless they can go about their lives in the story without talking about men, relationships and other females in a jealous rage. It’s something like that. Well if that’s what makes a boring female character then Whip It is the exact opposite with all its female characters. They are focused on many things that are not male and not relationships with males and not about other females in respect to looks but more in respect with how they’ll kick her butt next time. That is one of the stand out things for me with Whip It, it’s got the female power with the bite of a great story that pushes it to even greater greatness with the caring cast.
It’s a well made film that is funny, emotional and compelling. The funny part is random sprinkles of different things. Emotional parts were not too emotional. They were just right, especially one of the end scenes with a note. It could have been more, but it was just right. Compelling because it’s possible to do a film that is interesting to guys that’s just about girls without it being a girly movie that has guys scoff and turn the other way.
Whip It is a good film to take your daughter for the strong female characters or concede to see with a date, because it’s not really a chick-flick and it’s way more tolerable than such. I have a feeling that this film could be nominated for Best Picture. With ten slots for this Oscar Year’s films I think that it has a good shot at being on that list. It’s a well done film that I have not seen a lot of this year and again kudos to Barrymore.