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Barrymore is on a Roll with ‘Whip It’

"Whip It," the new comedy about roller derby, is so fun and empowering, of course it was directed by Drew Barrymore.

After spending her life in front of the camera, the former "Charlie's Angels" star found the perfect vehicle to showcase her abilities behind the lens.

The result is a film that's witty, fast-paced and super girly. It's surrounded with the kinds of women you want to have as friends. And, despite all the black eyeliner and bruises, it has heart.

Because beyond Barrymore and the film's Oscar-nominated star, Ellen Page, the movie is a love letter to roller derby.

The underground sport, which is practiced around the country, is treated with such respect that you can forgive the predictable script and over-the-top characters.

Barrymore makes it easy to see why Bliss, a shy, Texas high-schooler whose mom forces her to do beauty pageants, would be enamored with the carefree and dangerous sport.

These are women who are passionate and speak their minds and become the stars of their own lives. Bliss, played by the new teen antihero, Page, is none of those things.

But after a few long bus rides to Austin, home of modern-day derby, Bliss finds that she's a pretty fast skater and eventually finds her place as "Babe Ruthless" on the last-place Hurl Scouts.

Anyone who has ever seen an underdog movie knows where this is going.

But because the film is packed with so many wonderful supporting characters — from Juliette Lewis' aging queen bee to the steadfast best friend played by the always great Alia Shawkat of "Arrested Development" — it's easy to forgive the imperfections.

The thing is, there are lots of movies out there about guys and their adventures — "Ocean's Eleven," "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle," "Fight Club." But as soon as Hollywood sticks a bunch of women together, things tend to get weepy or sentimental or both. Barrymore, with the help of her true-life roller derby screenwriter, Shauna Cross, doesn't let that happen.

Instead, the team delivers an offbeat, exhilarating — albeit mainstream — look at a sport that's ready for its time in the spotlight.

"Whip It." Rated: PG-13. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes. 3 stars.

To find out more about Nina Garin and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


1 Responses »

  1. I really enjoyed the film - not only was it a lot of fun, but it had some heart, too.

    The presence of Ellen Page + the soundtrack + the silly premise got me interested in this movie, and I wasn't disappointed. Juliette Lewis was amazing, and surprisingly, Kristen Wiig was also excellent, straying from her annoying nervous character that she always seems to do.

    Still, the highlight of the film for me is the music, especially since Drew Barrymore used “Unattainable” by Little Joy – that was my favorite song of 2008, and it really fit the party scene after Bliss’ first roller derby performance perfectly.