WHIP IT: Mark Keefer Reviews
A referee blows a whistle. Like warriors on a battlefield, players begin fighting for positions. Elbows are thrown. Blocks are made. One of the players races past the opposing team to score points. Basketball? Football? Nope.
“Whip It” is a movie starring Ellen Page as a 17 year old girl named Bliss. Bliss is tortured by her mother, played by Marcia Gay Harden. Not tortured in the traditional sense mind you. She makes her enter pageants. Think Jon Benet, but for older girls.
Like most other 17 year old girls, Bliss is struggling to find her own identity. On a shopping trip with her mother, she comes across a flyer for a local roller derby match. Intrigued, she convinces her best friend to accompany her on a road trip from her tiny little hometown to the big city, Austin, Texas.
The derby was an eye-opening event for Bliss. There was way more to this world than her tiny existence that she had come to know. Bliss eventually tries out for the team and makes it. This of course does not sit well with her parents. Her father, played by Daniel Stern, eventually warms to the idea however once he discovers how much it means to his daughter and just how good she is at the sport.
The standard Hollywood cliché plot points are present in the movie. Girl sees boy. Girl flirts with boy. Boy cheats on girl. Girl struggles to be accepted by her peers. Girl eventually earns respect of peers.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Ellen Page does a bang-up job in the role of Bliss, which is not all together a surprise. Page has turned in several stellar performances over the past few years. The roller derby scenes really did a good job of showing how brutally physical the sport can be on the players.
Toss this on your Netflix list and enjoy.
Movie title: Whip It
MPA Rating: PG-13. There is profanity, violence, underage drinking, and some sexual situations.
Movie Length: 111 minutes
Directed by: Drew Barrymore (This is her directorial debut)
By the way, there are plenty of local connections to roller derby. Oklahoma City has a couple of different teams. The Tornado Alley Roller Girls and Red Dirt Rebellion Roller Girls. According to their website, the Red Dirt Rebellion girls have the distinction of being the only team in the state with a banked track. In fact, the track they use, was used in the film “Whip It.” Also, it should be noted that former Enid resident Tiffany Burns competed for awhile with the Tornado Alley Roller Girls. The girls come up with personas for themselves, which is customary in the roller derby world. Burns skated under the name, “Tall Drinka Slaughter” in tribute to her height. Names like, “Kitty von Klobber,” “SaraCidal,” and “Olive Octane” are just a few examples of the creative names the skaters use.