Whip It

When I was much younger I fondly remember watching a roller derby team known as the “Thunderbirds” on television. Though the rules of the sport were a bit vague for me, I enjoyed the speed, action, and theatrics of the game. Over the years I had heard about revivals and regional leagues of the sport but it had largely slipped from my mind until my wife mentioned that her coworker took part in a local league. Intrigued, I agreed to go to a match at the same time a package with a new review DVD arrived.

The film is entitled “Whip It” and it stars Ellen Page as Bliss who subjects herself to beauty pageants at the prodding of her mother (Marcia Gay Harden), while working away in a local restaurant with her best friend Pash (Ali Shawkat) when they are not in school. A chance sighting of a flyer sends Pash and Bliss to a local derby match where Bliss becomes so captivated by the sport she attends and tryout and makes one of the teams. The only problem is she is 17, yet tells the coach she is 22.

Bliss soon becomes the hot new kid on the roller derby scene which makes keeping her secret double life all the more challenging. Between the rough and tumble sport and the heated rivalries with other teams, Bliss begins to question her mother’s passion for the pageant scene and her life in their small Texas community and must decide what is truly most important to her. The film is directed by Drew Barrymore who also appears in the film and has solid supporting work by Daniel Stern, Eve, and Juliette Lewis. Page’s carries the movie easily with her cool depiction of a young woman coming into her own. This enjoyable DVD offers ample bonus features included deleted scenes and more.

4 stars out of 5