Whip It | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, December 7th, 2023  

Whip It

Studio: Fox Searchlight
Directed by Drew Barrymore; Starring: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Alia Shawkat, Kristen Wiig and Juliette Lewis

Oct 02, 2009 Issue #28 Fall 2009 - Monsters of Folk
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In Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, Whip It, based on screenwriter Shauna Cross’s young adult novel Derby Girl, Ellen Page plays Bliss Cavendar, a small-town Texas teen who rebels against her beauty pageant-obsessed mom to secretly join a women’s roller derby team. Commonalities with Bend It Like Beckham and Coyote Ugly emerge throughout, and if that seems like an offbeat combination, how about a soundtrack that invokes both .38 Special and Radiohead (no surprise which song) for score?

The mother-daughter conflict, despite a fine performance by Marcia Gay Harden as Bliss’s mom, is unconvincing, as is Bliss’s romance with a musician (Landon Pigg). With its comedy, however, Whip It scores points; classic nicknames such as Babe Ruthless (Bliss) and The Hurl Scouts (her team) are tough to resist, and there’s a fun, contagious spirit to the rough-and-tumble female camaraderie in the film that can be traced to Barrymore’s youthful ebullience. The derby competitions, although they rouse little rooting interest, are impressively shot for a first-time director.


Author rating: 6/10

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Mark Redfern
October 3rd 2009

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. It’s got a great soundtrack too: Jens Lekman, Tilly & the Wall, The Go! Team, Radiohead, and others.

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