Whip It

For her directorial debut, Drew Barrymore has chosen a movie that fits perfectly with her persona.  It’s filled with girl power, finding your way and even more girl power!

Whip It is the story of Bliss, played by Ellen Page (Juno) whose Mom is a beauty pageant freak.  But Bliss finds her bliss on a rough and tumble – and losing – roller derby team.  Most of the movie centres on Bliss’s double life as she professes to be preparing for the pageant to please her Mom while sneaking out to roll at the rink to please herself.  Her team – the Hurl Guides – is made up of SNL’s Kristin Wiig, Barrymore and singer Eve along with assorted lesser-knowns.  Juliette Lewis plays the team’s main rival like an evil stepmother. 

It’s a sweet movie, but not too sweet.  Marcia Gay Harden and Daniel Stern seem real, not caricatures, as Bliss’s parents. The roller derby footage is fast and fun and there are enough little side stories involving Bliss’s best friend and her first love, to flesh out the teen’s entire small town world.  The movie is edited with a quick hand.  There’s no filler and nothing drags.  It’s a good, funny little flick with a great, big heart.  Bliss’s folks love their kid and do the best they can even if their best is the absolutely wrong thing. 

But my favourite part of the movie isn’t anything said or done by the adorable Ellen Page or the understatedly hilarious Kristin Wiig.  It’s the opening scenes featuring our longtime friend, Ed Kelly – Edward Austin Kelly in the credits.  He plays the pageant host and he’s great!  You have heard Ed’s voice on commercials for everything from KFC to Lincoln and if you go to Whip It, you’ll see him, too.  So don’t get caught in  a candy line-up or you’ll miss Ed!  And Ed notwithstanding, Whip It is, even non-Edly speaking,  a really likeable movie and I give it three Eds up!