Whip It (2009)
In a town near Austin, Bliss Cavendar's strong-willed mom believes Bliss, at 17, can win pageants - the key to a happy life. Bliss isn't the beauty pageant type: she's shy, quiet, and has just one friend, Pash, her fellow waitress at a diner. Things change for Bliss when she discovers a women's roller derby league in Austin, tries out, proves to be whip fast, and makes a team. Now she needs to become someone tough on the rink, keep her parents from finding out where she goes twice a week, and do something about a first crush, on a musician she meets at the derby. Meanwhile, mom still sees Bliss as Miss Bluebonnet. Things are on a collision course; will everyone get banged up?
In Bodeen, Texas, a teenage girl named Bliss Cavendar is sick of her mother, Brooke, forcing her to compete in beauty pageants. While shopping, Bliss finds herself in the world of roller derby. She lies about her age and joins the team. Through the time, she falls in love, betrays her best friend, and gets betrayed herself. Then, her mother finds out about the roller derby and all.
Bliss Cavender, a seventeen year old girl living in the town of Bodeen, Texas, is sick of her mother's obsession with her competing in beauty pageants. When shopping in Austin for new shoes, Bliss picks up a leaflet for an all girls roller derby team and decides to try it out. She finds herself a natural and decides to join the team. With the help of her best friend Pash, can she navigate love, friendship, lies, all without her parents finding out?
In Bodeen, Texas, an indie-rock loving misfit finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin.
- Whip-It opens at the scene of a beauty pageant for teenage girls. The organizer is making sure all the girls are ready. Absent from backstage is Brooke Cavendar (Marcia Gay Harden) at the request of her daughter Bliss (Ellen Page). Brooke is a straight-laced, fairly strict mother who works for the US Postal Service and has been raising Bliss to be a beauty pageant contestant.
Bliss is frantically trying to wash her hair and is horrified at the results. Her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) is unable to help. Looking at a bottle in her hands, Pash insists that it says its results are temporary.
On the pageant stage, the girls are each giving a short explanation of why they chose the one person they could have dinner with. When Bliss is called to stage, the piano cuts short and everyone stares. Bliss' hair is a complete mess and there are noticeable streaks of blue. Brooke glares daggers at her daughter as Bliss explains why she would choose Amelia Earhart to dine with.
En route back to the parking lot, Brooke grills Bliss about her actions. Bliss can only meekly say she did it on a dare, though when challenged on how it worked out, she can only answer, 'not so great.' Brooke gives a sportsman's hug and congratulations to Corbi, the winner of the pageant, who thanks her modestly and says that Bliss is difficult to beat. Brooke and Corbi's mother briefly discuss the upcoming Blue Bonnet Pageant (Brooke tousles Bliss' blue hair as a reference) before Brooke piles Bliss and younger daughter Shania (Eulala Scheel) into the car. Inside the car, Brooke tells Bliss that even if she doesn't really approve of the pageants, there's a lot she can learn from them.
Brooke takes Bliss to the hair salon to get the blue dye washed out. On arrival home, Bliss' father Earl (Daniel Stern) hugs Shania on the trophy she won for her age division. He's heard about Bliss' fiasco and asks about it, and Bliss just sullenly says, 'just defective, I guess,' before going inside the house.
Later, Bliss and Pash are at work at the 'Oink Joint' BBQ diner. Neither of them likes their tiny home town of Bodeen at all, wondering why anyone comes into it. Their manager, Birdman, says they can mock the Blue Bonnet pageant all they want, but without the Blue Bonnet factory, Bodeen wouldn't exist. Pash and Bliss think Birdman's promotion has made him too corporate, and they scoff at his saying they need to call him by his proper name, Dwayne, now, saying that Birdman has all he has going for him.
A group of teens enter the Oink Joint, including, to Bliss' dismay, Corbi and her boyfriend Colby, and Bliss has to go wait on their table. Pash and Bliss watch Colby successfully complete 'The Squealer' challenge-- a big messy burger that is free of charge if it can be finished in three minutes or less. Bliss has to take a photo of Colby to put on the diner's 'Squealer Wall of Fame.' Corbi's personality is markedly different than the demure manner shown at the pageant; clearly she doesn't really like Bliss at all. Pash is surprised it's the same girl that shared a bed with Bliss during sleepovers.
The next scene shows Bliss lying on her bed, a pageant dress beside her. Brooke comes up to her and offers to bring her and Shania into Austin for some shopping, looking to spend some quality time with her daughters. But Bliss' mood is hardly improved and Brooke and Shania don't notice that she isn't participating in the sing-along in the car. At a shop, Brooke is getting Bliss a pair of boots. At the counter, she sees what she thinks are nice looking vases, but the clerks laugh and she realizes they are bongs for smoking weed. Horrified, she takes back her credit card and says she's changed her mind. Brooke and Bliss have a small argument about being in a 'head shop.' Brooke tries to sic Earl on Bliss, calling him on her cell phone, but Earl just laughs and doesn't want to be caught in the middle. While Brooke's back is turned, Bliss reaches into her pocket and uses her own money to pay for the boots.
Just then, three roller derby girls come skating into the shop, handing out flyers for their home league, TXRD (Texas Roller Derby). Bliss is fascinated and grabs a flyer as she follows Brooke and Shania out of the shop.
That night as Pash is about to drive Bliss home from work, she happens to spot the flyer. She realizes the date is the next day. She thinks Bliss meant for her to find it so she would give Bliss a lift to Austin to watch the exhibition, and asks if there will be cute boys there. Bliss just smiles.
The next night at Bliss' house, she and Pash lie to Brooke and Earl about going to watch an away football game-- they've even donned jerseys and are holding pennants. They're deeply worried when Earl offers to drive them and watch the game with them, but to the girls' relief, Brooke is happy to have some alone time with her husband. In Pash's car, the girls pull off their jerseys and give squealing laughs as they head to Austin, singing along with a punk song on the radio.
At the derby, they encounter a hot-looking boy, and Pash playfully pushes Bliss toward him. They look at each other, but Bliss shyly turns away as the show prepares to start and everyone starts heading toward their seats.
The announcer gives the run down of the league's last-place team the past three years, the Hurl Scouts. There are five teams, each with its own theme. The Hurl Scouts wear uniforms resembling Girl Scouts. Skating against the Scouts are undefeated champions, the Holy Rollers, who wear uniforms resembling Catholic School girls. Bliss recognizes the Rollers' captain and league's leading scorer, Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis) as the girl shown in the flyers at the head shop.
Bliss and Pash have a great time watching the Derby. Despite the Rollers completely dominating the Scouts, Bliss takes Pash up to a stand just outside the arena (set up right after the derby) where both teams sell various souvenirs and mementos. Bliss tells Scouts team captain Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) that the derby girls are her new heroes. Maggie realizes Bliss has never been to a derby, and suggests she puts some skates on and become her own hero. Bliss is embarrassed at the idea of skating, but Maggie assures her that all of the derby girls started as complete novices. She invites Bliss to tryouts on Tuesday, the only requirement is that she be at least 21 years old. Bliss and Pash briefly balk (they're only 17), but Bliss lies and says she is 22. As Bliss and Pash walk away, they argue about the invitation. Pash does not want to try out, and she thinks Bliss is too scared to go without her-- aside from how to explain something like roller derby to straight-laced martinet Brooke. As they prepare to leave, they spot the same hot-looking boy again. Bliss gives a puppy-dog whimper but Pash quickly starts the car up and drives off with Bliss.
Bliss dons her 'Barbie' roller skates and begins practicing skating around the neighborhood. On Tuesday she takes a bus to Austin and arrives at the Warehouse where the derby games are held, for tryouts. Maggie sees her and says she's glad Bliss came. As they talk, the coach for the Hurl Scouts, Razor (Andrew Wilson) drives up. Maggie notes to Bliss that Razor marches to the beat of his own drum, but he knows derby extremely well. Inside the arena, Razor explains the rules of roller derby as a number of experienced derby girls give demonstrations. As the tryouts start to skate, Bliss falls a few times but starts to get the hang of it. The potential brutality and room for injuries is shown when Hurl Scout Smashley Simpson (Drew Barrymore) receives a sharp elbow check that bloodies her nose. Razor scolds the two Manson Sisters (Kristen Adolfi and Rachel Piplica) for the move, and we see that the two girls are deaf and only communicate in sign language. Bliss starts to really get the hang of the skating and in the speed trials, she is soaring ahead of the other girls. Maggie jokes to Iron Maven that she has some potential competition, but Iron Maven is not impressed. In the locker room when tryouts are finished, she walks up to Bliss as if to introduce herself, but then reveals her true nature and stuffs Bliss into her locker. Razor lets her out and then tells her she's made the Hurl Scouts.
Bliss continues to practice skating and gets herself a pair of real derby skates. She changes her work schedule, lying to her parents about wanting to enroll in an SAT class (she needs to go to derby practice). She even wears her skates while on duty at work. Her speed and control in her skates continues to improve, and she is able to stop on a dime and hide behind a tree when she spots her mother on her mail delivery route.
At first official practice, however, Bliss begins to see the underside of roller derby. She learns the Scouts are the bottom ranked team and have never really won a match. Facing off against Iron Maven, Bliss finds her small size lets her dart through openings in the pack quickly, but Iron Maven can simply bull through the pack and sharply hip-checks Bliss and knocks her down. Razor scolds Bliss and tells her she needs to be more aggressive-- more 'ruthless,' as Bliss puts it. The Scouts make Razor back off and Maggie confides in Bliss about an ex-boyfriend who was the regional manager and gave her crabs. Her advice is for Bliss to always think about the one thing that makes her angrier than anything else and focus on it so she can be more aggressive, and able to both deliver and receive a 'hit,' any maneuver that involves rough physical contact-- and as Razor had said, derby is a full-contact sport.
Bliss manages to sweet-talk Birdman into covering for Pash so she can come watch Bliss at the first official game. The Scouts are playing against the Black Widows. The lead jammer and scorer for the Widows is Eva Destruction (Ari Graynor) who is easily outmaneuvering the scouts, much to Razor's consternation. The Scouts have learned to put up with Razor's constant admonishments and overall attitude about the Scouts' winless record. After half-time, with the Widows having an insurmountable lead, Razor puts Bliss in to skate real derby as the jammer for the first time, asking her to show him why they call her, 'Ruthless.' The crowd gives an appreciative cheer as she is introduced for the first time as 'Babe Ruthless.' One of the Manson sisters takes Eva down allowing Bliss to score four points and everyone sees that what Bliss might currently lack in strength and aggressiveness, she makes up for in speed and maneuverability. The Widows still win the game, as their lead was too great to overcome with so little time left in the game, and Razor tells the Scouts they still suck. But the Scouts, used to him, still cheer and celebrate. They enjoy the game enough to not care. Pash hugs Bliss excitedly and admits she has to eat crow about saying Bliss didn't have the balls to compete.
After the match, Smashley brings Bliss and Pash to a house party where the girls can relax and party after the derby (we see Eva and the Scouts' Rosa Sparks (Eve) getting cozy in the hot tub), and points out 'Hot Tub Johnny,' aka Johnny Rocket, the play by play announcer for the games. Bliss and Pash watch in surprise as Smashley suddenly tackles a young man and starts wrestling with him on the ground, but teammate Bloody Holly (Zoe Bell) tells them the man is Smashley's fiancé and they do it all the time. The cute boy Bliss had her eyes on is singing with a band.
Bliss explores the house and finds her way to the attic which has a lot of records and a player. She plays one of the records and the young musician she had her eyes on, finds his way to her. His name is Oliver (Landon Pigg). They chit-chat briefly about themselves; Bliss embarrassed as she mentions her job at the Oink Joint in Bodeen (a 'tiny town off of South 84,' as Oliver notes). He says he's going to get something for her, but Iron Maven and some of the Rollers find Bliss first. They grab her and carry her outside the house, tossing her into a hot tub occupied by two men.
Bliss goes to the bathroom to clean up and finds Pash making out with one of the rockers. Pash complains of a stomach-ache from a 'little something she'd swallowed,' and Bliss coaxes her into vomiting it back up by vividly describing Pash's parents having sex.
Bliss spends the night at Pash's house, and Pash unsuccessfully digs for info on Bliss' 'date' with Oliver. The morning after the sleepover, after Pash drops Bliss off at her home, the Cavendar family's neighbor, Ronny, is placing two signs on his front lawn so all passers-by will see that his sons play varsity football for the local school, along with their first names and team numbers.
Soon after, when Brooke goes to get Bliss to take her to a pre-pageant event called the Blue Bonnet Brunch, she's appalled to find Bliss is barely awake and far from ready.
At the Brunch hall, they stand in front of a photo of Brooke when she won the pageant back in 1981. Brooke tries to assure Bliss of her talents that will make her a respected veteran of the Blue Bonnet Pageantry. She comments that being pretty doesn't last forever, but Bliss protests that she thinks Brooke is still beautiful even at her current age. Brooke asks how Bliss' inspiration speech (where the pageant competitor explains who is her hero and why), and Bliss says it's almost ready but she doesn't want to share it with Brooke yet.
The next day, Bliss is at work in the Oink Joint. Pash is off but hanging out there while studying. Bliss and Pash start to dance together to Dolly Parton's song, 'Jolene,' ad-libbing their own lyrics that describe their feelings about getting out of Bodeen. Bliss suddenly drops Pash when she looks out the window and realizes that Oliver is standing outside. She steps outside and jokingly asks if he's stalking her. Joking back, he says he is. He asks Bliss if she can get a break.
Pash (a little reluctantly) covers for Bliss so she can hang out with Oliver. As Oliver drives her through town, Bliss is surprised to find that the band Oliver plays in is professional and has released a CD. Oliver's brother is the band leader. Oliver notes Bliss' shirt is themed after an '80's Christian rock band named Stryper. On Oliver's shirt is simply the number 3.5 million, which he explains is a high score at pinball. He takes her to a diner in Austin where he usually plays, and gives her some pointers. At her suggestion to 'do something different,' he takes her to a wheat field where they gaze up at the sky while singing 'Deep in the Heart of Texas.' Bliss notes she needs to get to derby practice but Oliver keeps throwing his car keys into the wheat field.
After losing another match and returning to their lockers, Holly notes that the play from Razor's playbook that they used worked really well and they came closer to winning than ever before. Iron Maven, however, is still not impressed and bops over to the Scouts' locker room to taunt them. Rosa gets very annoyed and confides in Bliss that the Hurl Scouts' attitude about just wanting to skate, regardless of winning or losing, is wearing thin on her. She wants to beat Maven at her own game, and Bliss admits she does too.
The next day at school, Bliss and Pash find a 'gift' from Corbi in Bliss' locker: two dark-haired Barbie-like dolls (symbolizing Bliss and Pash, both of whom are brunette) stripped naked and tied together in a pose that resembles an amorous hug. Climbing the stairs en route to their next class, they see Corbi and Colby hanging out at the floor above them. Colby grabs his crotch at them while Corbi giggles. As Bliss and Pash pass, Bliss uses a derby hip-check to knock Corbi off the banister down to the floor below, wiping the sardonic grin off of her face in a hurry.
The next game the Hurl Scouts are skating in is against a team called the Fight Attendants and as usual, they are getting beaten. Razor scolds them again and insists they try one of the plays in the playbook, number 3. Horrified at seeing that the Scouts haven't even read that far into the playbook, he decides to use some tough love. Tearing the page out of the playbook, everyone in the Warehouse watches in amazement as he offers the Fight Attendants' coach $20 to use the play against the Scouts, and a bonus if they score at least three points on it. The Attendants execute the play flawlessly, taking all of the Scouts down, and the Attendants' jammer, Kami Kaze, scores an easy four points. Stung and humiliated, the Scouts go into a huddle where Razor explains play #2. They use the play and Bloody Holly scores a number of points. The crowd watches and even Hot Tub Johnny is amazed as the Scouts suddenly begin to play more professionally, executing the plays in the playbook, and turn the game around, defeating the Fight Attendants to score their first win. The Scouts celebrate, giddy with excitement at finally winning. They commit themselves to studying the plays in the playbook and perhaps even pursuing the goal of handing the Holy Rollers their first defeat.
Bliss continues to hang out with Oliver all around Austin, growing very close to him. She is completely gung-ho and unrepentant when she and her parents are summoned to the school to confer with a guidance counselor about Bliss knocking Corbi off the stairway rail. Corbi's leg was visibly bruised and she has to cheer that night for the varsity team. Bliss, however, is the one receiving cheers, from Oliver and the Warehouse fans, as the Scouts defeat the Black Widows in telling style, and Johnny comments that Bliss might be a candidate for Rookie of the Year. She goes to watch Oliver rehearse with the band the next day. Afterward they go to a pond where Oliver tells her that his brother has booked a tour for the band and he'll be on the road for 39 days.
That night Bliss is getting off the bus after derby practice. She passes by a van and hears her father inside, calling out in a raised voice in a way that makes Bliss think that Earl is cheating on Brooke. But it turns out he's just watching a football game on a portable TV inside the van, so Brooke doesn't know he isn't working late at the office. He lets her inside to watch some of the game with him and they talk about Brooke. Earl mentions that Brooke is a fierce fighter for everything she believes in. The Blue Bonnet pageant means a lot to Brooke and Earl thinks it's nice that Bliss is going along. Earl lets Bliss sip from his beer can and is shocked when she nearly finishes it.
Later, at a league dinner, Razor distributes flyers showing that the TXRD season championship game is on November 12th. He then yields the floor to Eva Destruction for an announcement.
Eva announces that the season "Poster girl" is always announced by a member of another team. Each season the TXRD officials choose one of the league players and makes a poster of them as the "face" of TXRD. She unrolls the season poster to show Bliss as Babe Ruthless, bringing about cheers from the Hurl Scouts, in addition to most of the other teams, save for the Holy Rollers.
Iron Maven walks up and gives congratulations to Bliss and the Scouts, but while she does so she picks up a french fry and tosses it onto Bliss' face. Bliss tosses back some banana cream pie and a food fight breaks out among all the girls, and even Razor is pulled into it.
At home, Brooke is fitting Bliss into her pageant dress and happens to notice a bruise on her lower back near her hip. She is horrified but Bliss explains it away with another fib, saying it doesn't hurt.
As she is getting some milk from the kitchen, Bliss happens to glance at the calendar Brooke has on the refrigerator door. The day of the Blue Bonnet Pageant is November 12th, the same day as the league championship... and the Hurl Scouts will be in it if they defeat the Black Widows in the last pre-championship game of the season.
The Hurl Scouts continue their winning ways, defeating the Widows to move into the #2 ranked spot for the season, earning the right to square off against the Holy Rollers for the league championship. Just as the game finishes, Fire Marshals enter the Warehouse and order an evacuation: Excitement over the final game has boosted attendance to where the Warehouse has exceeded its maximum permissible capacity under the fire code. Bliss asks Pash to wait for her so she can find Oliver. Disaster then strikes for both of them. Bliss is stopped by an officer who demands to see her ID and threatens to arrest her if she fails to comply. Pash sees an officer approaching and quickly throws away the unfinished beer in her hands, but the officer spots it and confronts her. The officer who had confronted Bliss examines her ID and wants to know why a 17-year-old is so far from her home. Bliss says that's why she's leaving and the officer tells her that's a good idea. Just then Oliver finds her and leads her away, but as they walk off, one woman turns around-- it's Iron Maven in her street clothes. Clearly she's heard everything.
Bliss tells Oliver she needs to find Pash, unaware that she's being arrested for possession of alcohol, but Oliver distracts her with the promise of cherry Slurpees and a celebration of his last night in town. Bliss watches lovingly as Oliver buys the Slurpees at a 7-11. They sneak into a pool, diving into the water fully clothed. They shed their clothing while kissing and holding each other under the water. Afterward, the two are shown sitting beside the pool shirtless. It is morning when Oliver drops her off back home. She gives him her Stryper T-shirt as a token of affection and he covers her up with his jacket.
Of course, reality comes crashing down on Bliss like a ten-ton hammer as she walks through the door. Her parents are awake and waiting for her, and furious as all hell. Earl tells her that they got a call from Pash's parents at 3 am. Earl and Brooke looked through Bliss' room and found her TXRD poster. Earl and Brooke confront Bliss on her lies. Brooke and Bliss have it out over Brooke's rigid control of Bliss' life, and Brooke's scornful opinion of roller derby girls, who she thinks are unable to attend college, get any kind of loan or credit, find a 'decent' job or marry happily. Bliss calls Brooke's view on pageants a 'psychotic 50's view,' while Brooke feels that roller derby is but a moment in Bliss' life. Before Bliss can stop him, Earl seizes her derby skates from her duffel bag. Bliss storms away, leaving Earl to comfort Brooke.
At work, Bliss finds she has also lost the respect of Pash, whom Bliss never did come to find. Now Pash's car is fitted with a GPS device installed by her parents so they can track her. Pash also thinks that Bliss' affair with roller derby will only last a few years. She reminds Bliss that they were both trying to get out of Bodeen, which they both hate, and a criminal underage drinking charge might have destroyed Pash's dream of attending Ivy League.
Bliss leaves home and is picked up from work by Maggie, who is taking Bliss in. As Bliss closes the car door, she hears the grunt of a very young child. Maggie has a preschool-aged son, which is the reason she never goes to any of the after-game social events with the other Scouts. Maggie says first she needs to drop her son off at a sitter, and then they stop off at the Warehouse.
Bliss finds Iron Maven sitting alone beside the track waiting for her. She asks Bliss how old she thinks Iron Maven is, completely untouched and unamused when Bliss mistakes her for 27. Iron Maven says she is 36, and was 31 when she first began skating, because it took until then to find something she was really good at, and she worked incredibly hard to become that way. Bliss listens numbly as Iron Maven reveals she's learned that Bliss is only 17 and has been lying to all of the derby, her teammates and the officials, about her age. Cutting Bliss off from trying to make an emotional plea, Iron Maven says Bliss might be a well-respected derby girl someday, but warns her that today is not that day, and that if she were Bliss, she wouldn't bother lacing up her skates again. Bliss is completely broken and can only cry.
Bliss calls Oliver, needing a friend to talk to her and comfort her, but only gets his voicemail. She tells him she's left home and gives him Maggie's number, asking him to call. Bliss then calls the Oink Joint, asking Birdman if Pash is there. Pash had heard Birdman say Bliss' name after answering the call and shakes her head no sharply. After Bliss hangs up and leaves the pay phone, Pash briefly opens her heart to Birdman, and suddenly gives him a passionate kiss before catching herself and pulling away.
Bliss meets the Scouts and Razor in a bar and admits her true age to all of them, to their shock and no small amount of horror-- if she'd gotten hurt, her parents could have sued the league. Maggie points out that Bliss would still be able to play if one of her parents provided written consent, but of course with Bliss not even living at home or on speaking terms with her parents, that doesn't seem likely. The Scouts are still stung at the revelation of Bliss being a minor, but admit they still love her as a friend-- Smashley even cuts a joke that Bliss could be their mascot.
Maggie drives Bliss to school the next day and ends up having a heart to heart talk with her about families, and convinces her that despite Brooke's overbearing attitude, and Maggie's belief that Brooke is wrong about the derby, doesn't mean Brooke is wrong about everything and Bliss is lucky to have parents who care for her so much. She also admits that if her son lied to her the way Bliss lied to her parents, she'd wallop him hard. Maggie finishes by saying that having gained a second family is no reason for Bliss to discard her original one.
At school, Bliss goes to the library and hits the website for Oliver's band, taking comfort in the music playing.. But as she looks through pictures of the band's tour, her faces changes. She clicks on one picture to enlarge it, and the photo clearly shows Oliver with one arm around a young blonde woman who is wearing Bliss' Stryper T-shirt.
Brooke arrives home from work to find Bliss sitting on the kitchen floor, a dish of casserole half-eater in her hands. One look at her daughter's face is all Brooke needs to know that her heart was broken by a boy. Although stung a bit by Bliss' admission that Bliss lost her virginity to this boy, Brooke comforts her as best she can. Bliss mends her fences with both Brooke and Earl, and since her chance at derby is out the window, tells Brooke she will be in the Blue Bonnet pageant. Brooke, having admitted she can be overbearing at times, tells Bliss she doesn't want her competing just to please her. Bliss insists to make her mother happy, lying and saying she'll do it for herself. This works, and Brooke smiles at the thought that her daughter might be that pageant girl she wants after all.
At work at the Oink Joint, Birdman finally talks Pash into letting go of her anger and grudge. Bliss and Pash mend their own fences and Pash reveals she's gained acceptance into several Ivy League colleges. She's chosen Columbia, meaning she will get to see and live in New York City, news that makes Bliss gush with excitement. Thinking for a moment, Pash asks Bliss if she still has Oliver's jacket. They go around back and Bliss burns it in a trash can.
At home, Bliss and Pash are giving Shania a 'roller derby' makeup job when Pash confesses to having kissed Birdman. Earl enters the room, telling Bliss that Maggie Mayhem is calling. Maggie asks Bliss if she's coming to the league championship game. Bliss says the pageant is also that night and she can't go to the game. Smashley jokingly tries to say she'll set Brooke straight, but Bliss hangs up on them. Pash knows Bliss lied yet again to Brooke, and tells her she's selling out.
Meanwhile, having heard his daughter's tone of voice as she spoke to Maggie, Earl sensed the strong familial bond. He goes to his computer and googles the TXRD. He marvels at the poster photo of Bliss with her derby name, Babe Ruthless, and he watches a short video post of Bliss in action. He realizes that not only is Bliss a natural talent, but she's obviously very happy with the game and with her team. Remembering the name Maggie Mayhem from her phone call to Bliss, he shows up at their final practice looking for her.
Later, as the pageant girls are getting ready, Earl arrives, bringing the Hurl Scouts with him. He finds Brooke and confronts her while the Scouts find their way to Bliss' station, and she's pleasantly shocked at their arrival. They talk to Bliss and convince her to 'come home' to them. Meanwhile, Earl finally puts a foot down with Brooke. He explains that he's no longer opposed to Bliss being in the roller derby, and more importantly, what he saw on the internet convinced him that the girls are all having the time of their lives, and he can live with having already spent $800 on Bliss' custom pageant dress, but he cannot live with Bliss losing what appears to be her chance to be truly happy.
Brooke enters the dressing room and tells Bliss that Earl is providing her with written consent to play in the league championships. She asks Bliss again if she really meant what she said about doing the pageant for herself instead of for Brooke. Bliss is unable to answer, which tells Brooke all she needs to know. Still struggling to come to grips with Bliss playing roller derby, she nonetheless wishes her luck. Earl gives Bliss her derby skates and all the Scouts cheer. As they get ready to leave, Bliss stops them, saying she's forgotten one thing. The next shot is of the van full of derby girls driving away, and Bliss' friend and fellow contestant, Amber is seen in the parking lot wearing Bliss' custom dress.
Backstage at the Warehouse, Bliss is surprised at the arrival of Oliver. He says the tour just got back into town and he came straight there to watch the game. Bliss confronts him on the photo, and he insists the girl was just a groupie who snuck into the van and slipped the T-shirt on, and that he never cheated on Bliss. Bliss says that regardless of whether or not this was true, what hurt her most is that Oliver never called her while on tour, either. His explanation toward that is painfully lame, that there was never any privacy in the van. Bliss kisses him, but then slaps him in the face and tells him she would have called... and also, she wants her shirt back.
The Scouts and the Rollers stand face to face on the rink just before the game's start. Bliss sarcastically thanks Iron Maven for outing her on her being underage. But Iron Maven insists that she didn't say anything-- she just wanted to mess with Bliss' head. If she had gotten the Scouts disqualified for fielding an ineligible player, Iron Maven would have left the question of who was the dominant player-- and the dominant team-- unanswered, and she knows that the fans, the rest of the Rollers, and Iron Maven herself, couldn't let that happen.
The game starts, and Earl and Shania are seen in the audience to watch, along with Pash and Birdman, who is getting to watch Bliss play for the first time. Quietly, unseen by Bliss or any of the other Scouts, Brooke is seen arriving to watch as well. The game is fast-paced and furious, Iron Maven and Bliss skating their strongest performances. Again, Bliss' small size and speed is her main strategy in picking her way through openings in the pack, but she's managed to harness aggressive feelings, hip-checking Iron Maven and taking her down, which Maven loudly protests to the referee. Smashley gets into several cat fights with one of the Rollers named Princess Slaya, which Hot Tub Johnny says has been going on since the start of the season. Razor wants to shelf Smashley for this, but she insists her head is on the game, and proves it by slipping past Slaya to score four points instead of brawling with her, which is her usual tactic. The score is far too close to call, with the Rollers having only a razor-thin lead.
The crowd watches as the Scouts close ranks to take down a number of the Rollers. Without even breaking stride, Bliss jumps right over them and sails ahead... but one Roller, Jackie Daniels, rushes at Bliss from the side and body-checks her into the rail hard. Everyone watches as Bliss goes down and Razor rushes to her side. Slowly, but full of determination, Bliss rises to her feet. The fans all cheer, Earl and Shania perhaps the loudest, and even Iron Maven is visibly impressed; nodding in approval.
The last jam of the game begins with Bliss again facing off against Iron Maven. They are neck and neck trying to weave through the pack, until the Manson sisters use a double leg-whip maneuver to propel Bliss through and around. Bliss seems about to score enough points to push the Scouts into the lead, but suddenly Iron Maven and several other Rollers close ranks just as the Scouts had done to them. Bliss and the other Scout blockers go down, and Iron Maven scores two points to give the Holy Rollers their third straight championship win, allowing them to remain completely undefeated for three years now.
Despite their win, even the Holy Rollers know they must share the spotlight with the Hurl Scouts, whose performance had improved so much over the season. Even Razor cannot deny just how much heart the Scouts put into the game, and tries to hold back tears of prideful joy as he gathers them together for a team hug and cheer. The Scouts skate around the track as the Rollers stand at the rail to exchange high-fives. As Bliss reaches her, Iron Maven clasps and holds on to her hand, congratulating her on her jump. Bliss teasingly offers to teach it to her some time. Iron Maven agrees and actually smiles genuinely at Bliss for the first time as she skates off. Knowing that she has won Iron Maven's respect is the clincher that tells Bliss she's found her calling.
After the game, outside the Warehouse as the souvenir stalls have been set up, Earl is buying a few things for Shania when Bliss finds her way to them. Earl tells her the game was unlike any ball game he's ever watched, and hugs her proudly. But the true reward for Bliss was seeing that Brooke had come to watch the game. Bliss says she wants to move to Austin and make a career out of playing roller derby, but she needs to know that her mother can accept it. Brooke admits that it will be a difficult struggle, but promises to do her best.
The next morning, Amber goes to the Cavendar house to return the pageant dress. She also gives Brooke a card Bliss had left at her station. Amber had come in second in the pageant and Brooke congratulates her.
Sitting down on the sofa, Brooke reads the card: it's Bliss' inspiration speech. In the speech Bliss declares Brooke herself to be Bliss' hero. The poignant letter ends with saying that although she'd be delighted to win the pageant, what truly mattered the most to Bliss was knowing that her mother was proud of her. Brooke is moved to tears after she finishes reading the card.
Outside, Earl places a sign on his lawn with Bliss' derby number, derby name, and the league name (TXRD), facing the two similar signs placed by neighbor Ronny on his own lawn for his sons' varsity football.
The movie closes with Bliss sitting atop the pig sculpture on the roof of the Oink Joint, looking up at the sky and smiling as she contemplates the new life ahead of her.