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Capone has loads of fun watching pretty ladies skate in a circle and beat each other senseless in WHIP IT!!!

Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Sometimes you go to a film for deep and meaningful insight and sometimes you go to have fun--and every so often you get a whole lot of entertainment value out of a film that actually makes your heart swell and puts a big old dopey grin on your face as you watch gorgeous women wail on each other in a roller rink. Pain does indeed make some people beautiful. WHIP IT is more than just the directorial debut from actress Drew Barrymore (who has a supporting role in the film as a member of the Hurl Scouts roller derby franchise of Austin, Texas), this is a really sweet coming-of-age story about a high school girl whose entire world is in upheaval and isn't certain she has the strength to come out the other side in one piece. Of course, joining a roller derby club would probably help to toughen her up quite a bit. In her best role since JUNO, Ellen Page plays Bliss Cavendar, growing up in the nowhere town of Bodeen, Texas. Her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) thinks the path to her daughter's success and happiness is the pageant world, but Bliss is frustrated with both the events and the other girls in them. Bliss is one of those girls who knows she's bigger than the town she grew up in or her job at the wonderfully appointed Oink Joint. During a road trip to Austin, she meets a couple members of the Hurl Scouts and is compelled to take in a derby match (emceed by Jimmy Fallon). She is transfixed by the event and meets some of the players afterward, who encourage her to strap on a pair of skates and try out for the team. Although she hasn't worn skates since she was a pre-teen, Bliss seems to have a natural ability, and soon, she's on the team under her new name, Babe Ruthless. There is so much to enjoy about WHIP IT. The nuclear energy that seems to radiate off the players is infectious. Along with Barrymore, other team members include rapper Eve, DEATH PROOF star (and KILL BILL stuntwoman) Zoe Bell, Juliette Lewis, Ari Graynor, and Kristen Wiig. Wiig was a big surprise for me in this film, because I'm so used to seeing her in supporting roles in what seems like a dozen films a year where she comes in, is wildly funny, and then drops in from time to time to keep being funny. She remains the best thing on "SNL," but WHIP IT makes what I would consider to be her dramatic debut and maybe the most developed character outside of Bliss. She gives a maternal, caring, big sister aspect to Maggie Mayhem, who takes Bliss under her wing and reveals things about her personal life that might surprise you. The film kind of belongs to her. The other more obvious draw to WHIP IT are the matches themselves, which huge sections of the film are devoted to. They are brutal and exciting, and Barrymore does a great job laying out the basic ground rules of derby play. There may have been stunt doubles for a few of the more bone-breaking plays, but most of the time it's quite clear that the actresses themselves are taking the hits. One other secret weapon of WHIP IT is Andrew Wilson (brother of Luke and Owen), who is the film's true comic relief as the team coach. He comes up with a genuinely sure-fire playbook that nobody seems to want to follow, until the team members decide they want to win. I don't know if I can quite put it into words, but to me, he is everything I love about Austin--laid back but intensely passionate about his work, dripping with sarcasm, and completely lovable. There's a lot about WHIP IT that is unfortunately predictable. As nicely played as the mother-daughter conflict is between two very strong actresses, you also know exactly where it's going and when it's going to get there. Less predictable of Daniel Stern as Bliss's dad, who pops in for comic relief around the house, but is never really developed. There's also a romance subplot between Bliss and a musician (Landon Pigg), but I hated the dude and the story doesn't really go anywhere. The entire storyline could have been excised and no one would have missed it. Fortunately the pluses far outweigh the minuses in this film, and in the end, my simple assessment of the film is that I had a great time taking this journey with Bliss and the team. WHIP IT isn't meant to be over-analyzed, and picking it apart just feels pointless. I'm fully aware it's not a perfect film, but for some reason it just hit me the right way at the right moments, and seeing sexy ladies kicking the crap out of each other is damn sexy and exciting.
-- Capone capone@aintitcoolmail.com Follow Me On Twitter



Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:03 a.m. CST

    Whipping does not exist in this dojo

    by Cobra--Kai

    This one isn't about a dominatrix?<p> Why's it called WHIP IT?

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Remember Ellen when she was on Trailer Park Boys?

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    A great show that AICN ignored.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:12 a.m. CST

    Is it a porno?

    by ominus

    if not i could care less about these women starring in a feminist movie version of the american dream.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:15 a.m. CST

    Why isn't there a review for the latest TRAILER PARK BOYS MOVIE?

    by Stereotypical Evil Archer

    Come on AICN, YOU CAN DO IT!

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:16 a.m. CST

    Is this like a Roller Boogie type thing?

    by Mel Garga

    Someone get Linda Blair and the guy from The Warriors on the phone, NOW!

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:48 a.m. CST

    Is this really the sort of thing....

    by Drsambeckett1984

    AICN should be reviewing? Who gives a shit?

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:55 a.m. CST

    Im a little surprised at all the positivity...

    by Marxeffect

    ...coming out for this movie. I might have to give it a look see!

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:09 a.m. CST

    pretty ladies???

    by Series7

    So since the headline starts off with a lie I can only guess that the review is full of them as well.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:11 a.m. CST

    In her best role since JUNO

    by Series7

    Wasn't that her last known movie?

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:13 a.m. CST

    where she comes in, is wildly funny

    by Series7

    yep more lies.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:16 a.m. CST

    She remains the best thing on SNL

    by Series7

    Again with the LIES! There is no BEST THING on SNL right now.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:28 a.m. CST

    Fuck the negativity. Drew Barrymore+roller derby?...

    by FlickaPoo

    ...the theater seats would have to insert a cattle prod in your anus to get this to stop being fun. There's nothing here to hate folks. Move on.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:30 a.m. CST

    Daniel Stern is trying to get that niche work

    by Series7

    Of when J.K. Simmons is not available.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:35 a.m. CST

    TRAILER PARK BOYS MOVIE?

    by Series7

    Because they aren't funny. They are like the Kristen Wiig of comedy in Canada.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:41 a.m. CST

    FUTUREMAN!

    by haggardatbest

    Let's see if Bob's keeping the pool clean.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 8:57 a.m. CST

    Richard Jenkins in Let Me In

    by the new transported man

    That's some righteous casting. Take his demeanor from the 1st half of The Visitor & put it in as the dude collects blood, dumps a body, bungles another draining, & ultimately accepts his fate. Richard Jenkins is the man for the job.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 9:07 a.m. CST

    Could it Match Kansas City Bomber?

    by cookylamoo

    The greatest roller derby movie ever made?

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 9:19 a.m. CST

    I'm excited for this film!

    by kafka07

    I was going to see Moore's new movie this weekend, but I think I will pass on the ranting fat man for now, and favor the cute roller girls beating each other up.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 9:41 a.m. CST

    I'm doin a whip it right now!!

    by tomcruise1

    Juno on skates?? I'm still down, see you there!! Reviews at http://sickpicks.blogspot.com/ Check every week for new reviews!!

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 9:44 a.m. CST

    Drew as director

    by Eternal Watcher

    I saw this movie in the Saturday preview (free t-shirt included), and Drew has a knack for directing. There's one shot of Ellen wearing her glasses at the track you won't forget. Also, look for Alia Shawkat, who has matured since her days on "Arrested Development."

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 10:37 a.m. CST

    Marcia Gay Harden is annoying

    by darthvedder81

    She just has a snotty pretentious look about her. Oh and she made me want to throw my TV off a building when I saw her in "The Mist." Plus, what kind of name is "Marcia Gay Harden".

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 11:02 a.m. CST

    Marcia Gay Harden

    by greyspecter

    always sounded like a gay porn actor's name or something

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 11:11 a.m. CST

    by Cobra--Kai

    Can't imagine too many gays getting hard over her, but apparently Mr Gay-Harden is like catnip for queers.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Hard Candy

    by gun_will_travel

    Was, is, and likely always will be Ellen Page's best role

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 11:38 a.m. CST

    Sadly, the Trailer Park Boys never caught on in the US

    by Crawfish

    I remember a couple years ago they had a big press conference here in Canada how Ivan Reitman would be Exec Producing their first movie and how they would give it a big push in the states, but then when it came out it was only in Canadian theatres. Those fuckers really dropped the ball on that one.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 12:04 p.m. CST

    Crawfish

    by Series7

    Thats because that movie sucked balls and Reitman is a fucking retard now who doesn't know what funny is. And lets his son piss away all his money with his shit films. And Harold Ramis looks like he wants to drag his name through the dirt with one of the worst movies ever made, Year One.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 12:21 p.m. CST

    About Ellen Page's Pink Taco...

    by Disney_Retcond_my_STD

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 1:04 p.m. CST

    Caught Trailer Park Boys on Comedy Central

    by skimn

    and it made Artie Lange's BeerLeague look like the Citizen Kane of comedies.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 1:18 p.m. CST

    No Thanks

    by Disco_sucks

    Not unless this film features motorcycles, multiple murders, blowing up trees at social events and badass 70's moustaches.<p>Let's face it, the original Rollerball set the bar pretty high.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 1:43 p.m. CST

    If you never seen Rollerderby lately

    by Cajunsblues

    you are missing out. The movie was fun. saw it with a bunch of Rat City Rollergirls in Seattle. Yeah no where near perfect but fun

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 1:50 p.m. CST

    Now THAT'S girl power.

    by DANNYGLOVERS_DICKBLO0D

    Did anyone see the footage they showed on Monday's Conan O'Brien? Ms. Barrymore took some SERIOUS hits while making this movie. That girl is one tough cookie. :) Heart you, Drew!

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 2:14 p.m. CST

    Please god, don't make me see this

    by lockesbrokenleg

    Why any man would enjoy this Lifetime movie is beyond me.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 2:23 p.m. CST

    Ellen Page + Drew Barrymore + roller derby action =

    by HarryCalder

    money out of my pocket. Don't care how "Lifetime" this movie is... want it, bad.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 2:51 p.m. CST

    Rollerderby Girls

    by Series7

    Are just like Rugby girls....dikes.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 3:16 p.m. CST

    Who said Trailer Park Boys aren't funny?!?!?!

    by Royston Lodge

    Them's fightin' words!!!<p> Put 'em up! Put 'em up!!!!

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 3:18 p.m. CST

    Though I gotta admit...

    by Royston Lodge

    ...the best times I've had watching Trailer Park Boys was when I was watching with people from Nova Scotia. Every two minutes, "hey, I got high behind that convenience store! That place makes the BEST pizza! Oh crap, I was arrested in front of that grocery store..."

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 5:27 p.m. CST

    I can't masturbate to this!...

    by cheyne_stoking_DMS

    Fuck off.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 5:50 p.m. CST

    Landon Pigg?

    by SubliminalJones

    When pigs fly. Get it? Seriously, he should have his agent beaten senseless for allowing him to go out on auditions with that name.

  • Oct. 2, 2009, 7:26 p.m. CST

    this movie sounds like hipster bullshit to me

    by Nerd_Rage_Retard_Strength

    i like drew though

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 2:32 a.m. CST

    A whole driveway made of hash!

    by MacReady452

    Trailer Park Boys is funny as hell. Thank God that came up so I can tell who the humorless pseudo-intellectuals are on here. Your opinions will be noted and disregarded as drivel. Steve Martin might still put that arrow through his head again so you can all have a nice belly laugh.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 11 a.m. CST

    Sorry, Series7...

    by John Maddening

    ...they're just saying they're gay because they're not interested in you.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 1:47 p.m. CST

    Getting REALLY boring now kai...

    by Skyway Moaters

    I know, fuck me too.

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Christ S7, is there ANYTHING...

    by Skyway Moaters

    ...you don't hate out of hand jus to be contrary? Name one thing you joyless dipshit...

  • Oct. 3, 2009, 5:20 p.m. CST

    Whip it and Zombieland - box office bombs

    by lockesbrokenleg

  • Oct. 4, 2009, 2:51 a.m. CST

    Landon Pigg is in this??

    by thelordofhell

    Jesus, I want to punch that guy in the face for that Coffeeshop song.....I think that maybe I'm, possibly punching you in the face.

  • Oct. 4, 2009, 11:20 p.m. CST

    Zombieland is a huge hit, lockes

    by critch

    It only cost around 20 million to make, which it made more than just in 3 days. It's going to have great legs throughout this month, and is getting great reviews and word of mouth. Only here are movies like that seen as a failure or disliked. Choke on the 400 million dollars that TF2 got, haters.

  • Oct. 5, 2009, 10:09 a.m. CST

    Whip-It didn't have to be about rollerderby

    by hippolyta

    Replace derby with rowing, boxing, wrestling, joining a band, underground exploring...could have been anything. It's a great coming-of-age film. The derby part just makes it even better.

  • Oct. 5, 2009, 10:14 a.m. CST

    it would have done better at the BoxOffice

    by hippolyta

    but FoxSearchlight used the derby leagues across North America to promote the film and thousands of derby girls saw it for free rather than buying a ticket.

  • Oct. 5, 2009, 11:15 a.m. CST

    Skyway Moaters

    by Series7

    I enjoy many a thing. I've never seen you around before so I'm guessing you are just a big fan of whipe it and can't stand anyone hating on it.