Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rebel Grrl, You Are The Queen Of My World

It’s been a while since I’ve done a request, and I have had this one floating around for a while now, so I figured now would be a good a time as any to get to it. So, here you go Lissabeanies.

Today’s film is many things – it’s a coming of age drama about a young girl finding her place in the world, it’s a sports comedy, it’s a story of standing up for what you believe in, it’s a film that shows you can have more family than just those who share your last name and it’s a film that helped reintroduce the awesomeness that is Roller Derby back into the semi-mainstream consciousness. It’s about a young girl just finding her place in life, and trying to balance what she loves with who she loves. Can she do it? We shall see, won’t we?

Today’s film is Whip It.

The directing debut of Miss Drew Barrymore, Whip It tells the tale of Bliss Cavanaugh (Ellen Page), a reluctant pageant girl, whose life gets flipped upside down when she discovers Roller Derby. She and her best friend, Pash (Alia Shawkat) sneak off to Austin where they fall madly in love with derby and the derby world. Soon enough, she tries out for a team - The Hurl Scouts, and makes it into the line up, which means that she has to hide her new life from her traditionalist mother. Along the way, she picks up a rockstar boyfriend, becomes the new TXRD poster girl (known on the track as Babe Ruthless) and causes Pash to get arrested. All the while, Bliss learns to stand up for what she believes in and herself, all the while not forgoing those who will be there for her through it all.

As you can probably guess, this film is just dripping with Vitamin You Go, Girl and really wastes no time in getting down to “do whatever you like, as long as you are happy doing in”. This is a film that not only wears its Grrrrrl Power on its sleeve, it makes an entire suit of the stuff. The Derby Girls are shown as tough, independent, fun loving ladies (much like Derby girls I know in real life, only with less of me being actually scared of them) which just adds to the realness of the film.

You can get a pretty strong handle on what sort of film this is going to be when, after seeing her first Derby match, calls team captain Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) her new hero, and gets this response – “why not strap on a pair of skates and be your own hero”. Like, I said – completely You Go, Girl; and it really works. Even on me, as it reignited my long standing fandom of Derby and made me wish that I had enough skill to be able to stand upright on a pair of skates (alas I don’t, so I can’t).

For the most part, I absolutely dig the hell out of this film – not only is it about a subject I love, but the main characters are pretty much all portrayed by actors I am a fan of. From the aforementioned Ellen Page, Kristen Wiig and even Barrymore herself (playing hippy dippy blocker Smashley Simpson) to Daniel Stern (as Bliss’ daddy), the awesome Zoe Bell, my favourite Wilson brother, Andrew as the teams "get no respect" coach and Juliette Lewis, who plays captain of The Holy Rollers (of course), Iron Maven. All through the film, as well, are sweet little moments that made me smile – I won’t spoil them all, but I think my favourite is when Bliss and Pash are giving Bliss’ sister a makeover – the look of pride and happiness on that girls face when she says “I’m getting a makeover” made me happy.

It’s not all sunshine and roses though, as a couple of the main roles manage to rub me the wrong way, but for different reasons. Firstly, Marcia Gay Hardin as Bliss’ mother has always rubbed me the wrong way – sure, she’s good at playing a shrill battleaxe of a woman, but it’s not a role that I am a particular fan of. And Landon Pigg as Bliss’ rockstar boyfriend, a man who is an actual musician with next to no legitimate acting skills playing the kind of character who you just want to slap upside the head – every time he was on screen, I kept thinking “if Bliss is as independent as she is being made to be, there is no way she’d give you more than the time of day.”

All in all, if Whip It doesn’t fill you with at least 80% of your recommended daily dose of “You Go, Girl” and at least partially ignite your interest in the world’s third favourite pseudo sport – then, buddy, there ain’t no help for you.

Hope you enjoyed your review, Lissa.

1 comment:

  1. I most certainly did and should have seen the film when you first told me about it but I waited until I was ready. Muchly worth the wait though loved it! And loved your review of it as well!!