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If you like to be entertained and you enjoy seeing some of the best
actresses working today, you should see this film. Ellen Page is a
delight. I thought she did more with this role than she did with Juno.
Kristen Wiig was her usual funny self, The rest of the cast, including
Zoe Bell (excellent in Tarantino's Deathproof), Juliette Lewis, Marcia
Gay Harding, Daniel Stern, Drew, Jimmy Fallon, all performed well. That
says something about Drew's directing. She elicited excellent
performances out of her cast, the film was well shot, the sound and
editing were nicely done and I look forward to seeing what Drew can do
on her next effort.
The premiere of Whip It, which took place on September 13th, 2009 at TIFF was enthusiastically well received by the audience.
And by the way Drew, you looked smashing at the premiere! Congratulations!
Drew Barrymore is well known for her quirky acting and distinct
personality. But now movie goers across the country will begin seeing
her in a new light- director.
"Whip It," which stars Ellen Page (Juno), Marcia Harden, and several other notable actors/actresses is a fun filled, action packed, emotional film that forces you to give an old fashioned thumbs up as you leave.
Page is fantastic in her role, perfectly capturing the rebellious, curious character of Bliss Cavendar. Her innocent face leaves you rooting for her while at the same time wondering if her decisions are ultimately right. Harden again plays her role flawlessly, down to her own hidden dreams disguised under her thick shell.
Unlike most "rise to the top" movies, Whip It is believable. It seems real at all times. It feels as though all of us at one point in our lives were like Bliss, longing to live a different life.
If you want a great night at the movies, if you want a solid movie with enjoyable memories, and if you want to answer that question of "I wonder how Drew Barrymore would be as a director," go see Whip It. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
I attended the World Premiere of "Whip It" at the 2009 Toronto
International Film Festival. This is quite an impressive directorial
debut for Drew Barrymore (who also stars).
Barrymore works with a Shauna Cross script (based on her own novel Derby Girl) and an all-star cast featuring Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern, Kristen Wiig, Landon Pigg, Jimmy Fallon, Eve, and Juliette Lewis.
Page is Bliss Cavendar, whose mother (Harden) sees her daughter in gowns and crowns as she continues the family tradition of winning beauty pageant trophies. But Bliss' chance encounter with a group of roller skating girls plants other ideas in her head. Austin, Texas happens to host a roller derby league, it's not too far away, and Bliss finally sees a way out of her town (and gown). This sets up a family confrontation that is the stuff of classic coming-of-age stories.
The film starts out slow then whips into action, its brilliant ensemble cast hitting its stride and functioning like a winning roller derby team (without the bruises). Then just when you think "Whip It" is headed into sports rom-com cliché territory, surprising twists keep it original and refreshing. But despite the multitude of talented actors, Page clearly carries the film on her diminutive shoulders and is easily in control of the material.
Production values are naturally first rate, with a vivid color palette and in-your-face costumes that are occasionally (and appropriately) over the top. Cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman and editor Dylan Tichenor work perfectly in sync by reflecting both the snail's pace of Bliss' home life vs. the secret one that flies on wheels around the Austin track. Camera-work places the viewer directly into the action. Despite having been filmed primarily in Michigan (due to favorable tax credits) the Austin scenes are prominent, placing its landmarks in a warm, affectionate light. One benefit of a big budget is the ability to purchase music rights, and the result is a killer soundtrack that will have the audience singing along. Be sure to stay for the second of the two closing credits songs, the best ever cover of one of the greatest rock 'n roll love songs of all time, The Association's "Never My Love." Fox Searchlight scores again with Ellen Page, just like they did in 2007 with "Juno." Unlike that (at the time) dark horse, this is no little indie. This is classic Hollywood comedy. "Whip It" is another crowd pleaser to add to this year's must-see list.
I attended a screening of this on Wednesday night (the 9th) with a Q&A with Drew after the movie. This movie was superb. It was done very well. I really liked the score and the music selection (from Peaches to MGMT) was amazing. The story is really good and so realistic...it wasn't cheap. Drew said she wanted to direct this movie because it was close to her heart, and you can tell it is because of the final product. You can tell she put a lot of effort into this one. Ellen Page and Marcia Gay Harden were GREAT in this! I loved every scene they were in together...(btw, Drew was REALLY nice and answered my question). Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Drew, Landon Pigg, and the young lady who plays Bliss's best friend Pash (I forget this actress's name) were wonderful. There is everything in this movie...romance, drama, mild humorous violence, and comedy. The film also explained the sport of roller derbying very well. Good research Drew! My final rating: 9.5/10 GO SEE IT!
Enticed by free t-shirts and comfortable seats, two of my friends and I
made the journey to Alexandria last Saturday to catch the sneak Preview
of Whip It. Upon our arrival, our expectations were not high, as none
of us were fans of Drew Barrymore.
Once the movie began, however, our opinions quickly changed. Drew Barrymore may not be the best actor, but she definitely has chops at directing. Whip It is the tale of a girl who hates life in a small town so she decides to rebel by joining a roller derby team with often comedic results. The movie is much better than plot may sound. It has some cliché moments but definitely beats the standard chick flick.
The film had a very unique feel, shifting between humorous and hipster-esquire scenes. This also was probably my biggest problem with the movie. The comedy often reminded me of something out of an Owen Wilson film but then the dramatic scenes reminded me of something more hip than Juno. That being said, the movie was much funnier than the average chick flick.
Ellen Page is superb as usual, taking on a somewhat different role than what I've seen before. It's impossible to compare her to her role in Juno, as in Whip It she plays a much more introverted, but still conflicted girl.
Andrew Wilson was probably the funniest character in the movie. I'm actually wondering where this guy came from. The other two Wilson brothers are huge and this guy just comes out of nowhere. Hopefully we'll see more of him, as he is just as funny as Owen and Luke.
Drew Barrymore had a very small role in the movie. The few scenes she is in are certainly not ruined by her. Landon Pigg should probably stick to music, or maybe even quit that because he sucks at that. He is not an actor, and that was prevalent throughout the movie. Jimmy Fallon provided a solid array of one-liners as the quirky announcer for the games.
The rest of the cast was solid, including Marcia Gay Harden as the strict but loving mother. Juliette Lewis is good as the over-the-top, intense player who takes things way too seriously. Alia Shawkat I couldn't stand but I just can't stand her in general.
This movie definitely goes far beyond what any average chick flick would. In fact it's hard to classify it as such, as I found it good and I'm a dude. All things considered it's definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of hip movies or just comedy in general.
In a sense this is a 6 or 7: a kind of kookie inspirational sports
movie - fun, energetic, easy to watch and easy to like.
However it gets a 9 because I cannot recall any film that truly takes the conventions that male cinema does so well and wholesale translate them to something that girls will love.
This film isn't sappy but it isn't about masculine heroism - it is about women having a great time being truly what they are - not 1950 prissies, but punky, spikey, ironic, sexy and just plain fun.
Whip It has great roller derby sequences but more than that and more than most male sports movies we get to see the personalities of those involved and they shine.
Drew Barrymore knows films - she's being doing it all her life - and this may look lightweight and simple, but the way the camera tells the story is excellent - it is all well-composed and supported by a tip-top script and a great cast. The romantic interest is too good-looking (of course) and above all this is a film that will hit the target with girls and women - but I promise you guys will really like it too.
Almost impossible not to enjoy we loved its free spirit and would recommend it heartily to teenage girls as a film about doing your thing and being strong.
Caught a preview of this and was really glad I did. The writing and characters were very genuine. There were lots of laughs and emotion and great moments you can't help but root for the girls. Drew, Ellen, Alia, Kristin, Marcia, Juliet, Eve and the rest just tore it up on the screen. It was nice to see some of these girls, like Drew & Kristin, in roles as real people as opposed to just caricature's. I never knew how roller derby was even played but now I'm gonna look for a local league to go watch - those girls rock! I ended the film feeling like I was best buds with all of them. This definitely shows that Drew will have quite a career directing and that Juno wasn't a one-hit-wonder for Ellen, either. You won't want to miss this one.
Drew Barrymore's directorial debut is a little gem. It could have been
called Juno on Skates, such are the comparisons, but that is not
necessarily a bad thing. Sure, Bliss Cavendar is almost identical to
Juno MacGuff (and not just because Ellen Page plays them both), it
follows a similar 'finding oneself' story arc, there are eccentric yet
lovable parents and it prides itself on the unique dialogue flowing
throughout; however Whip It has something up its sleeve to give it its
own recognisable edge roller-derby. Fun doesn't come any thicker,
faster or sillier than roller-derbying. Barrymore understands this and
appropriately places the underground sport front and centre. The
editing is occasionally too quick meaning you can't always see what is
going on, but you are caught up in the atmosphere so much it doesn't
Beneath the action is a coming-of-age tale that wears its heart on its sleeve and bears all. Despite being slightly predictable and clichéd, real life roller-derby competitor Shauna Cross' screenplay (adapted from her own book) makes up for it with razor-sharp dialogue ("I can grow the balls") and genuinely intriguing characters. Not to mention the comedy littered throughout; never laugh-out-loud moments but you'll be chuckling from start to finish. The romance subplot could have been left out though, it doesn't hold your interest like the other story elements and feels slightly unnecessary.
Undeniably cute once again, Ellen Page stamps her A-list spot with another splendid, oddly appealing performance. Page's serious acting chops are matched by her superb comic timing as she proves that she is one of the finest young actors coming through today. The huge supporting cast is letdown by no-one; Kristen Wiig the pick of the bunch, her deadpan humour is hilarious and she is surely another actress we will see more of in the future. A special mention to Marcia Gay Harden and Daniel Stern as well, they play Bliss' old folks with warmth and likability, never allowing them to become the typical misunderstanding parents you often find in these movies.
A laugh-a-minute affair with a bigger than average heart. Throw in a terrific little indie soundtrack and you have yourself a must-see movie.
4 out of 5 (1 - Rubbish, 2 - Ordinary, 3 - Good, 4 - Excellent, 5 - Classic)
While it's a coming of age story we've seen before the film being set against roller derby makes it's something new and different. I saw this movie yesterday at TIFF and the screenwriter was there for the Q&A. This story is taken from her experiences discovering roller derby and many of the characters are based on real people. The writer is also from Texas and grew up near Austin where the story is set. Ellen Page and Marcia Gay Harden are excellent and the mother/daughter scenes are very real. Ellen Page did all her own stunts - learning to skate which adds a lot to the movie. Many of the older actresses did many of their stunts as well so the wipe outs and the scrapes and bruises are real!! Kristen Wigg is also great - one of the first times I've seen her be a real person on screen instead of just a funny character.
Whip It is directed by Drew Barrymore and adapted for the screen by
Shauna Cross from her own novel, Derby Girl. Barrymore also co-stars
alongside Ellen Page, Alia Shawkat, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig,
Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Stern and Landon Pigg.
Bliss Cavendar (Page), is a bored teenage girl stuck in a rut in Bodeen, Texas. Her life consists of working at the "Oink Joint" restaurant and entering beauty contests to please her mother (Harden). Along with her friend Pash (Shawkat), she dreams of escaping to a better life. Then one day during a trip out to Austin, the girls get wind of Roller Derby, a sport for girls played on roller-skates. Intrigued they go and take in a match and Bliss is hooked straight away, it's tough, competitive and even edgy. Telling a lie about her age, Bliss decides to try out for the "Hurl Scouts" and gets a place on the team as "Babe Ruthless". Thanks to her ability the "Scouts" start to turn around their season, however, with a new boyfriend on the scene and her parents unaware of her secret life, Bliss' new found happiness could come crashing down around her.
In spite of some favourable critical assessments, Drew Barrymore's directing debut barely made a dent at the box office. Just about making its money back on World gross, the figures would lend you to believe that the film simply isn't very good. Plot synopsis doesn't suggest anything out of the ordinary, yet another coming-of-age teenager picture, and one that is sports based, and even more formulaic than that, the sports team at the centre of proceedings is an underdog too! Throw into the equation that it's a female based movie and it's not really a film crying out for all demographics: or is it? Barrymore herself was very disappointed with the marketing for her movie, the general feeling being that it was sold as a girls sports love story type picture. She's absolutely right, it was marketed badly, and it barely had a run on the big screen in most countries. Which is a shame because Whip It is a smashing film, a picture that's vibrant, funny and not without dramatic worth; and yes, it's accessible for any age, sex or gender persuasion. Cross' script is fresh and free of filler and the cast all turn in jolly good shows; ranging from the excellent (Page/Gay Harden) to the engaging (Shawkat/Lewis/Wiig) and the funny (Stern/Fallon). OK, so it's not perfect, Barrymore is no Tony Scott when it comes to shooting action (some of the actual derby matches are confusing and not flowing), and maybe a bit more back-story flesh for the other "Hurl Scouts" wouldn't have gone amiss? But these are minor itches at the beginning of what is hoped to be a long career in directing for Madame Barrymore.
With names like Jabba the Slut, Smashley Simpson and Iron Maven, it's evidently a film full of fun vim and vigour. But as great as that is (girls in skirts on skates belting each other around a track), the coming-of-age drama at its core should not be understated either. 8/10
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