Girl Power on Wheels Is Roller Derby Retro

AnnaLinda Andersson

Fantastic, fabulous and furiously raw, “Whip It” will have the audience whipped within minutes.

Ellen Page (“Juno,” 2007) stars in this innovative movie about the high school student Bliss Cavendar. Cavendar lives with her little sister and parents in the tiny Texas town, known as Bodeen. She does not really agree with what her mother (Marcia Gay Harden, “Mystic River,” 2003) has mapped out for her and her life.

According to her mother, Cavendar should learn how to be a proper woman and a suitable wife by winning huge trophies at beauty pageants. However, staying in Bodeen and compete in this pageant is not really the ideal for Cavendar. So she needs to find her own way to get out of Bodeen and free from her parents.

And does she find it!

After one very inspirational night at a roller skate derby in nearby Austin, Cavendar decides to try out for the underdog roller-skate team “Hurl Scout.” But the big question is, will she be able to measure up with the likes of Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig, “Knocked Up,” 2007), Rosa Sparks (Eve, “Barbershop 2,” 2004) and Smashley Simpson (Drew Barrymore, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” 2009)?

With a little help from some old Barbie skates, a lot of practice and a little white lie, she makes the team, and the games begin.

The movie’s roller skate derbies put a whole new meaning to the term “Girl Power.” When sitting in the theater watching the movie, the audience actually twitches and feels the pain of the hard falls, sharp elbows in the chest and all other different reasons that leaves bruises the size of a basketballs all over the girls’ bodies.

And even though the girls play in skimpy clothes in front of their big audience of loud fans, the movie has such a strong feministic message that women and men in of all ages should see it for educational purposes.

Barrymore, who makes her directorial debut, manages to make a brilliant film out of a screenplay by Shauna Cross, author of the semi-autobiographical novel from which “Whip It” is adapted.

The film is projected in very “cozy” colors such as green and orange, which is very suitable to its October premier. Barrymore has also decided to shoot the film in very non-stylistic frames and straight forward angles, which could be considered a bit too safe at times. However, the cinematography gives the audience the chance to get up close and personal with the characters. Fortunately for Barrymore, the best job she did with the movie was casting the actors.

Marcia Gay Harden (“Mystic River,” 2003), gives a credible performance as the mother who has the ideal of true womanhood as if she was born in the 1930s.

Page is perfect as the sarcastic but yet so humble teenager Cavendar. And Juliette Lewis (“Old School,” 2003) is just pure candy for one’s eyes and soul as Cavendar’s biggest and craziest opponent Iron Maven.

Kristen Wiig is funny as always and Jimmy Fallon’s hair alone will make you laugh.

The movie has everything. It includes a touching family story, a girl’s path to womanhood, and a truly believable romance between Page and singer/songwriter Landon Pigg.

Humor, smart dialogue and action scenes so real and brutal it would make a UFC match look like a tea party is also what makes this film remarkable.

Four words for everyone: go and see it!

My rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.