By Amanda Patterson
Warning: Spoilers everywheeeere
Before we get started with my sure-to-be riveting review of Whip It, I need to first get something off my chest. If I don’t, then I’ll be thinking about saying it the whole time and you’ll get confused and off-track and just trust me. OK? Good.
We need to discuss how extremely attractive Drew Barrymore is:
Now, I’m a straight chick… but we all have our exceptions. The first lady on my “I’m a Lesbian Today” list is the always-spunky Drew Barrymore.
Those lips! Those eyes! That chin! The way she giggles in Never Been Kissed and kicks ass in Ever After. I’ve loved her since E.T., and the crush has only gotten worse (or do I mean better?) with time. I have no shame in saying that if Drew Barrymore walked up to me right now and cooed with her deep, sultry voice: “Take me, Amanda. Take me now!” my skirt would already be up and off. She’s loveable and beautiful, and it’s no surprise that she directed this cool, little film called Whip It. (Good segue, no?)
The film mostly takes place in Bodeen, Texas, where itty-bitty 17 year-old Bliss Cavendar (aka Ellen Page, who dropped out of Drag Me to Hell for the part) serves giant pork burgers at a local Oink Joint and competes in less-than-satisfying beauty pageants. All Bliss really has going for her is being awkward and doing whatever her Mommy and Daddy tell her. She’s on the fast track to a boring life and can’t muster up the courage to escape. Until she finds Drew Barrymore!
Just kidding. Until she finds Roller Derby! Yeah! Badass! Did you know that I tried roller derby? It’s hard as shit! My knees will never be the same.
Bliss drags Maeby – I mean Pash (aka Alia Shawkat) to their first Derby bout (aka match/game/whatever but it’s called a Bout in Roller Derby) with the promise of cute boys, and whoo-wee do they find some! And by they, I mean Bliss. And by cute boys, I mean Landon Pigg.
Bliss immediately falls in love with Roller Derby and decides to lie to her parents that she’s spending her time on an SAT class, lie to the league that she’s over the age of 21, and try out for the team like the badass bitch that she’s always dreamt of being. Boom.
She goes up to the attic and finds those Barbie roller-skates that we all had as little girls and hops on an old-folks bus to Austin for the try-outs.
If you don’t really know much about Roller Derby, you should know that for a lot of teams, funny Derby names are key to a good time. In Whip It, you’ve got Maggie Mayhem (aka Kristen Wigg), Iron Maven (aka Juliette Lewis), Rosa Sparks (aka Eve), Bloody Holly (aka Zoe Bell) and Smashley Simpson (aka my Sexy Angel of Destruction).
Turns out, little Bliss (now nick-named Babe Ruthless) is pretty quick on her pink Barbie skates and makes the team! She skates her first bout and loses but wait! Beer! She goes to a kegger with the whole league, finds Oliver (aka Landon Pigg) singing in a band, talks with him a bit and then gets thrown in a hot tub. Good times!
There’s some pageant stuff and some boyfriend stuff and some family stuff, but the best parts of the movie are the ones with the Derby girls (and no, not just for Drew Barrymore’s oh-so-kissable face). We watch as the team finally starts to win bouts while Bliss starts to become friends with Maggie Mayhem. And there’s even a food fight!
Bliss and Oliver lovingly have sex in a pool to Jens Lekman’s “Your Arms Around Me”, after she learns that her team has made it far enough to compete in the final tournament game. Too bad we’ve already sailed this boat up Shit Creek. It came out of nowhere!
Bliss’ parents find out what she’s actually been doing on Tuesdays and Thursdays, after Pash was arrested for drinking underage at the last bout Bliss played. The team finds out that Bliss is actually 17 and can’t skate without her parent’s consent, and Oliver just left for his band’s one-month tour. Everyone’s mad at her, she has no one to have sex with, and to make matters worse the tournament is the same day as the pageant that her mother just bought an $800 dress for! Conundrums everywhere!
Bliss finds out that Oliver has been doing more cheating than singing on his (whore) tour, so she goes back home to beg for her parents’ forgiveness, and agrees to compete in the pageant instead of skating.
That is until Bliss’ dad, who has forever desperately wanted a son that would compete in sports, saves the goddamn day! He picks up the derby girls and together they convince Bliss’ mom to let Bliss trade in her frilly pageant dress for some bloody kneepads! Before the bout starts, Oliver shows up. Bliss breaks up with him in the classiest way possible (with a kiss and a slap to the face) and goes off to skate her little heart out!
They lose. But it’s OK! She has become a stronger, wiser, more confident Bliss thanks to derby, friends, family and you guessed it…
IN CONCLUSION, Whip It is an entertaining, good old-fashioned time; but it’s also unexpectedly empowering. Everyone in the film is strong in his or her own way, making it refreshing and easy to look up to. It’s a movie you want to live for yourself, not only because it’s badass and fun, but also because it tells that great story: that anyone can be anything they want to be. Whip It is something you can’t help but rock out to.