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Review: 'Whip It' Staring Former Child Actors Ellen Page and Directed/Staring Drew Barrymore

September 15, 2009

Laced with good-natured hipster kitsch and endearingly goofy girl power, director Drew Barrymore's roller-derby dramedy, "Whip It," is a gas. In her contact-sporting debut feature, Barrymore hams it up as injury-prone skater "Smashley Simpson," but pays equal attention to all players in a lively femme-centered ensemble led by Ellen Page -- who, as blooming wallflower Bliss Cavendar (aka "Babe Ruthless"), finally has a role to match her star-making turn in "Juno." Young females will roll in the aisles, and in general B.O. prospects look zippy for Fox Searchlight's Oct. 2 release, particularly as the fall track appears overcrowded with weightier opponents.

Faithfully adapting her novel "Derby Girl," screenwriter Shauna Cross follows the basic rules of the coming-of-age movie, as punk-spirited Texas teen Bliss (Page) yearns to distinguish herself from old-school Mom and Dad (Marcia Gay Harden and Daniel Stern), who have her enrolled in cheesy, "Little Miss Sunshine"-style beauty pageants. When bespectacled Bliss, a waitress in a small-town BBQ joint, happens upon the rough-and-tumble world of women's roller derby, the discovery liberates not only her but the movie, which likewise finds its true calling on and around the track. Read More