Saturday, October 10, 2009

Whip It ****

Starring Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, Alia Shawkat, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Landon Pigg, Jimmy Fallon and Andrew Wilson.

Rated PG-13.

Directed by Drew Barrymore.

Screenplay and novel written by Shauna Cross (a former roller derby girl herself!)

* * * *

Whip It is a completely brilliant, exciting ride not to miss. The characters are fresh and totally loveable and the story is hip and chock full of understated girl power.

Bliss (Ellen Page) lives in the tiny Texas town of Bodeen. She’s alternative by nature, waitresses at the local burger diner, the Oink Joint, and her best friend, Pash (Alia Shawkat), is her partner in crime: all attitude and major curves to Bliss’s willowy, awkward frame. The film is set in modern time but has a retro charm to it that one only experiences when stepping far away from the major metropolises of America. There are two style themes within the film: a free and bohemian, groovy 70s vibe found at the concerts and roller derbies the two girls attend. The other is reflected in the beauty pageants Bliss’s mother (Marcia Gay Harden) forces her to partake in. They are reminiscent of the prim and proper women’s world of the 50s. Bliss goes along with her mother’s $600 dresses and pageant primping, but her grungy 80s rocker style speaks for the rebel in her.

She finds her true calling in a roller skating team full of confident, vivacious chicks who unleash the tough, hardcore feminine side of Bliss.

She also finds love with a musician, Oliver, whose style mirrors her own, played by singer/songwriter Landon Pigg. Their sweet romance is palpable and lovely to watch. The love scene they share beneath the clear blue waters of the community pool is one of the coolest, plainly sexy ever.

The roller skating chicks are made up of stars like Eve, Kristin Wiig, Juliette Lewis, and the director herself, Drew Barrymore. Jimmy Fallon, Andrew Wilson and Daniel Stern add some Y chromosome to the mix as the roller derby announcer, head coach, and Bliss’s father, respectively.

Amusing to the nth degree, laugh-out-loud funny, edgy and charming, Whip It could be one of the most satisfying films of the fall.

This is the kind of film you walk out of with a smile on your face and a rush of empowerment flowing through your veins.