DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Drew Barrymore Directorial Debut Released on DVD
17 year-old Bliss Lavendar (Ellen Page) is a small-town girl who has reluctantly entered the Miss Bluebonnet Beauty Pageant at the direction of her domineering mother (Marcia Gay Harden). What we have here is a tragic case of a parent attempting to live vicariously through a child, since Mrs. Lavendar sorely wants to see her daughter win a competition she lost at the same age.
However, Bliss is a rough-and-tumble tomboy who’d rather be a jammer on the Hurl Scouts, an all-female roller derby team. But she seems already too busy to fit anything else into her schedule, between preparing for college and her after school job as a waitress at the Oink Joint, Home of the Squealer.
Nonetheless, curiosity gets the better of Bliss, so one day she sneaks out of the house to attend a tryout for the Hurl Scouts, where she makes fast friends with Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig), a veteran who shows her the ropes.
Despite all the bumps and bruises, Bliss takes to the sport, though deciding to tell her mother she’s enrolled in an SAT prep course instead of the truth
This sets up the classic “one big lie which must be hidden at all costs” premise which underpins Whip It, an estrogen-fueled, female empowerment flick based on Shauna Cross’ novel of the same name. The movie marks the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore who had the wherewithal to assemble a very talented cast to play an array of colorful characters, from the smarmy emcee (Jimmy Fallon) to the tattooed butch (Juliette Lewis).
The cliché-ridden plot thickens predictably when the Hurl Scouts’ make the playoffs and the championship game against their cross-town rivals, the Holy Rollers, is scheduled for the same night as the Bluebonnet Pageant. At that juncture, the tension builds around whether Bliss will follow her heart or capitulate to her mother’s wishes?
Pleasant, if formulaic, Whip It is mostly a mindless diversion designed to hold your interest via a profusion of such teensploit staples as the gratuitous hot tub party and the cafeteria food fight. Juno on roller skates!
Very Good (2.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, crude humor and drug use.
Running time: 111 minutes
Studio: Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: An alternate opening, deleted and alternate scenes and theatrical trailers.