Yesterday was an off day for us (though not for everyone, I realize). Around 9 a.m., we saw a preview for the new Drew Barrymore-directed movie, Whip It. “Let’s go!” I said to Marc. He agreed and we were able to get it together to attend the $6 pre-noon showing in Burlington. Score!
I didn’t know much about the movie, except that it was about Roller Derby, and that Ellen Page was in it, who I loved in Juno. I was pleased that it also included a bevy of fierce female actresses — including Marcia Gay Harden, Eve, Kristen Wiig (who I definitely love more than ever), Alia Shawkat (Maeby Funke, to some), Juliette Lewis, and Ari Graynor (the drunk and hilarious friend from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist). Page is Bliss Cavendar, a teen stuck in rural Texas hell, with a mother who loves her but wants her to embrace her inner pageant queen, instead of encouraging her to find the place where she really belongs.
On a shopping trip to Austin, Bliss grabs a flyer for a roller derby night — featuring fearless, tattooed, and pierced women who aren’t afraid to duke it out in the rink. She and her best friend, Pash (Shawkat) sneak out and head to the derby. Bliss becomes entranced with the scene (and the cute boys on the scene) and she quickly decides to join the derby scne, lying to her parents about her whereabouts and hopping a bingo bus every other day to Austin for practice. Bliss is placed on the Hurl Scouts, the worst (but most fun-loving) team on the league. There, she connects with her teammates in a whole different way — finally coming into her own with people who aren’t interested in conforming to the stereotypes of polite womanhood, with no apologies.
Bliss (or Babe Ruthless, as she’s known on the Roller Derby scene) goes to great lengths to hide her interest from her parents, for fear that they won’t approve. Through the course of the film, though, Bliss learns that her parents want what’s best for her, even if it doesn’t necessarily comply with their original plan for their child.
Neither Marc nor I really knew what we were in for with this movie. I thought it would be a goofy, rompy film, a la the Judd Apatow flicks that have been plaguing the movies lately, where women are shrewish, or ditzy. I should have put some more faith is Drew Barrymore, though, because this film was absolutely NOT any of those things. The movie was FUNNY, but it also featured strong messages for young women. The Hurl Scouts embraced each other as sisters — there was no in-fighting among the women on the team. They propped each other up, and gave each other encouragement — no matter the outcome of their derby match. Their friendship spread past the rink, and continued to “real life”. Beyond the roller derby friendships, the film also features a really great and supportive friendship between Bliss and Pash. The girls are clearly similar at heart, wanting to get out of their little town, but each have different goals as to how to do that — and support those goals, despite their inherent difference.
Make no mistake, this movie is definitely a sports flick — a true underdog story. However, the beauty of Whip It is that it’s not just that — and it’s not just a comedy — it’s a 2 hour long reminder that girls, despite their age, their ability, their goals in life, can kick major ass, and have fun doing it.
Filed under: Recommendations, ruminations | 2 Comments
Tags: Marc, movies, ruminations, self