Whip It (2009)


There was a lot of controversy in my house Saturday. My Netflix DVDs had arrived and I opened them up to find Fright Night and Whip It. One of those films was my choice, the other was assumedly my husband’s– can you guess who chose what? As we settled in to decide on and watch a film, my husband questioned why we had Whip It. The funny thing was, Whip It was not my selection, but his. Plus,  we just had a conversation a few days prior about how he wanted to watch “that roller derby movie.” Being the nice person I am, I bumped it to the top of the queue. Apparently, my husband has a very short term memory since he recalls no such discussion. Regardless, we popped in Whip It and met our fate head on. 

 

Whip It stars Ellen Page as Bliss, a high schooler whose mother (played by Marcia Gay Harden because she is in every independent film ever) pressures her to do beauty pageants. Bliss has other ideas. While on a trip to Austin, Bliss discovers the wonderful world of roller derby, and eventually tries out for and makes the team—all while lying about her age. Bliss joins the last place team in the league. Before you know it, they have turned their luck around and are competing in the finals against the most famous Austin roller derbyist of them all (Juliette Lewis).

 

I really wanted to love Whip It, I truly did. Maybe I am just a grump lately, but I actually found this film to be rather boring. At 120 minutes, I thought it was at least twenty minutes too long. The romantic subplot could have easily been omitted—personally, I could care less if her relationship with a slightly older boy worked out or not and it added next to nothing to the story.

 

Sure, there were some funny parts in Whip It and they had an amazing cast (including Kristin Wiig and Jimmy Fallon), but I am a greedy audience member and I wanted more. I guess I got excited when I saw actors I recognized as being funny onscreen, but then was disappointed when they were only slightly humorous. Also—and I say this with sadness in my heart because I usually love him—the way Jimmy Fallon played his character was so annoying it was almost impossible to watch.

 

When I was in film school (because those who “can’t,” write about them on a little-known blog), a lot of my peers had an infatuation with music. They would use music to drive the plot, the emotion, and fill in any gaps in their films. Maybe I have some unresolved issues from my college years, but I tend to associate the overuse of music as a sign of an amateur filmmaker. Now don’t get me wrong, I love music in films, I just think that too much of it actually detracts from the finished product. In Whip It, I got that amateur-esque vibe from director Drew Barrymore. There was way too much dependence on music to propel the story instead of the writing or acting. It seemed as if every five minutes a new song started up and as hip as that music was, I could have used less of it.

 

It’s funny, because when I started writing this review, I didn’t think I disliked the film so much. However, reading over what I just wrote, I am finding it difficult to find the silver lining. Every time I wanted to say something positive about Whip It, I turned it into a negative. Impressive. My passive-aggressive nature has finally revealed itself in my blog. It’s basically the equivalent of an “Are you wearing that today?”comment to someone. Classy.

 

Well, maybe tomorrow I will be more positive about the film I review. Until then, thanks for reading and have a fantastic day!

 

Score: D

Netflix Queue: 489


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