This is movie I’ve been a fan of since I first saw it in 2010. My wife and I rented it those years ago, and today we picked it up used at FYE because we wanted to show it to our daughter. The movie holds up well after all the years and Whip It, which has a 6.9 out of 10 on IMDb and 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, has a star studded cast and a solid story.
Ellen Page plays Bliss Cavendar who is an indie-rock, angstful teen stuck in the world of beauty pageants that her mother, played by Marcia Gay Harden, has put her in to. Bliss stumbles into the world of roller derby in Austin, Texas and becomes Babe Ruthless and finds herself with a team of lovable misfits and her place in the world. The film does a wonderful job of carrying multiple story arcs and building some wonderful characters.
The cast features Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon, Eve, Kristen Wiig, Zoe Bell, Andrew Wilson, Alia Shawkat, Daniel Stern, and Drew Barrymore who also uses Whip It as her directorial debut. The movie does a terrific job of explaining the rules to new comer Babe Ruthless and subsequently the likely clueless audience. However, roller derby isn’t the actual focus of the film, even if I do find myself also stressed out during the matches hoping the Hurl Scouts can somehow pull it together, it’s really about life. The relationship that is very strained between mother and daughter is the central story of the film and well done and extremely believable.
The disconnect between Bliss and her mother is initially shown with a hair dye mishap, but really is exemplified when they go to buy boots and mom mistakes a bong for a flower vase. The mom isn’t a dislikable character at all opting to just point out that they are different and have to learn to appreciate those differences rather than the more traditional route of making the mother a despicable person. Kristen Wiig’s role as a mentor to Bliss is also a nice and subtle touch to the film. The world of roller derby girls is painted as out of control females, much like most musicians are painted in films about rock bands, but Wiig’s character proves that a lady can derby and be responsible. Her words of wisdom fall sharply on to Bliss’s ears and seeing Maggie Mayhem as a peer really works in the story.
If you missed Whip It on accident or on purpose it’s not too late to give it a view. I definitely recommend it and with its PG-13 rating it can be acceptable for a family night coming of age story. I give Whip It 7 out of 10 hot tubs.