VOD film review: Whip It
Director: Drew Barrymore
Cast: Ellen Page, Alia Shawkat, Marcia Gay Harden
Watch Whip It online in the UK: STARZPLAY / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play / Sky Store
With all that big flashy 3-D out there, people might miss a quirky little teen-sports-underdog-comedy. 17 year old Bliss (Page) is pushed by her mother (Harden) through the bright teeth and lip-gloss world of teen beauty pageantry. But she and her best friend Pash (Alia “Maeby Funke” Shawkat) are more concerned with getting out of small town Texas any way they can. Bliss drags Pash to a roller derby in Austin and discovers the girly brutality and fishnets of the fast-paced world: it’s about as easy to follow as cycling’s Madison. But don’t worry, they keep the score; you just watch Drew Barrymore and Juliet Lewis beat people up. It’s fun.
Ellen Page goes from Bambi on ice to fastest chick on wheels in a Rocky-worthy training montage (every sports movie needs a montage), gets through trials and ends up joining perennial losers, The Hurl Scouts. Except that she’s under-age. And her mum won’t approve. Hiding her roller skates from her parents, and hiding her family from the team in order to follow her dream, Bliss drags Pash from waitressing at the Oink Joint through a world of illegal drinking, indie guitarists and roller skates.
Alongside Page, the rest of the predominantly female cast are fun to watch: Harden’s controlling mum is so intimidating that even dad (played by a loveable Daniel Stern) has to hide in a van to watch football. In front of the lens, Barrymore is basically a colourful, if ditzy, thug; and Juliet Lewis is great as the vicious captain of rival team and reigning champions, The Holy Rollers.
Though both sports underdog stories and “kid wanting to do something parents don’t approve of” movies have already been done, Whip It combines the two with its great cast. In her directorial debut, Barrymore brings us a chick flick which is so much more than a tacky rom-com with a dumb heroine who spends all her time shopping and whose ultimate destiny is to meet Mr Right. Bliss is hardly a stretch for Ellen Page, but it’s such a relief to see roles like this around.
Whip It is available to watch online on STARZPLAY, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription – in addition to an Amazon Prime membership or Virgin TV package.