27 03 2010

The big question for me going into “Whip It” was Ellen Page. Can she play someone other than the spunky Juno MacGuff or is she truly a one-trick pony?

The answer? Basically, yes.

Page’s latest character, Bliss Cavander, the rebellious Texas teenager is very much a darker shade of Juno. But that didn’t make her any less enjoyable to watch. Page manages to remain fresh doing some similar schtick, and finding a niche at such a young age is truly an accomplishment.

The surprise of “Whip It” was actually Kristen Wiig. No, I’m not surprised that she was absolutely hilarious; Wiig had three supporting roles in 2009 and managed to steal every movie. She’s a great talent who will hopefully land a lead role securing her rightful place in the comedic stratosphere, but her surprise in “Whip It” was that she absolutely nailed the most crucial dramatic scene. It’s rare to find someone with this kind of range, and Wiig showed herself to truly be the full package.

Another big question was Drew Barrymore in her first time directing. Can she pull herself together and create something special?

The answer? A resounding yes.

“Whip It” is a comedic delight, with laughs and wit and quirks lurching at every turn. It follows Bliss as she secretly joins the underground world of roller derby, where the skates shred the track and the women are tough as nails. A bold name is also necessary for success with the fans, be it Smashlee Simpson (Barrymore), Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig), or Iron Maven. Bliss settles upon Babe Rutheless, and with her moniker, she becomes the new poster child for the sport. But she has to keep her success a secret from her strict mother (Marcia Gay Harden) who wants Bliss to become the beauty pageant queen that she could never be. How much of this movie’s excellence came from Barrymore is unknown, but I feel like I had as much fun watching “Whip It” as she had making it. B+ /



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