Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 40
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

WE MADE IT TO THE PLAYOFFS!: Bliss Lavendar (Ellen Page) joyfully skates towards her teammates to join in the celebration when her team the Hurl Scouts has made it to the championship game in their league. Now Bliss must decide between following her heart or obeying her mother because the game takes place the same time that the beauty pageant, which her mother forced her to compete in, has its final competition to choose the queen.

Whip It: Drew Barrymore Debuts as Director in Empowerment Movie

Kam Williams

Seventeen-year-old Bliss Lavendar (Ellen Page) is a small town girl who reluctantly enters the Miss Bluebonnet Beauty Pageant as she succumbs to pressure from her domineering mother (Marcia Gay Harden). Sadly, her henpecked father (Daniel Stern) is of no help because he’s also so afraid of his wife that he secretly watches football games in his van.

Bliss’s mother is attempting to live vicariously through her child, since Mrs. Lavendar sorely wants to see her daughter win a competition that she never could when she was her daughter’s age. She’s so desperate to have her daughter win that she spends $800 of her hard earned money as a mail carrier to buy her daughter a custom made rhinestone encrusted gown for the competition.

However, Bliss is a rough-and-tumble tomboy who’d rather be a team member of the Hurl Scouts, the all-girl roller derby team that competes in an arena in nearby Austin, Texas. Somehow, she manages to fit all of these activities into her schedule, which also includes preparing for college and working in an after school job as a waitress.

Bliss surreptitiously hitches a ride from Bodeen to Austin in order to tryout for the Hurl Scouts, where she makes friends with Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig), a veteran who shows her the ropes.

Bliss notices that the rest of her teammates have skating names that are puns such as Smashley Simpson (Barrymore), Eva Destruction (Ari Graynor), and Rosa Sparks (Eve), to name a few. So, it’s no surprise when Coach Razor (Andrew Wilson) gives his new recruit a nickname of her own, Babe Ruthless.

Despite all the bumps and bruises, Bliss does well in the sport, but, instead of the truth, she tells her mother that she’s enrolled in an SAT prep course. This sets up the classic “one big lie which must be hidden at all costs” premise which underpins Whip It, a female empowerment movie based on Shauna Cross’ novel of the same name. The movie marks the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore who has assembled a talented cast of actors who portray an array of colorful characters.

The plot thickens when the Hurl Scouts make the championship playoffs. Predictably, the championship game against the the Holy Rollers is scheduled for the same night as the Bluebonnet Pageant. Now, Bliss must decide if she will follow her heart or capitulate to her mother’s wishes.

Very Good (2 ½ stars). Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity, crude humor and drug use. Running time: 111 minutes. Studio: Fox Searchlight.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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