Friday, October 30, 2009

Whip It (Rhoades)

Ellen Pages Knows How to “Whip It”
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

That cute little 22-year-old Ellen Page (star of “Juno”) will likely be playing teenagers for the next ten years.

In “Whip It” – the new roller derby comedy that’s making its rounds at the Tropic Cinema – Page is once again cast as a misfit girl with a funny name (Bliss).

Instead of being the beauty queen of her mother’s dream, Bliss becomes enthralled by those roller derby divas she discovers in nearby Austin, Texas. An awkward klutz, Bliss can barely stand on skates until one of the derby babes teaches her the basics. After practice, practice, practice, she gets pretty good – so good that she decides to join the roller derby team while telling her mom that she’s studying for her SAT test. You can take it from there.

Marcia Gay Harden portrays Bliss’s mom. Daniel Stern is her dad. Kristen Wiig is her skating mentor. Drew Barrymore is a wacky teammate. And Juliette Lewis is the meanie on the other team.

As it happens, “Whip It” marks the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore. Scion of the famous Hollywood dynasty, Drew first appeared in an advertisement when she was eleven months old. We’ve loved Drew from “E.T.” to “50 First Dates.” And she flexed her producing muscles with the “Charlie’s Angels” franchise. So it’s not any surprise that she’s trying her hand at directing.

“Whip It” is based on Shauna Cross’s 2007 YA novel “Derby Girl.” Herself a skater for the Los Angeles Derby Dolls, Cross adapted her story to the screen. Maybe she’s no Diablo Cody, but the film is witty and with it.

Roller derby is an American-invented contact sport on wheels. It’s particularly big in Austin and LA.

Ellen Page exclaims, “I love going to the games. First game I went to, I went to with Drew and my mind was totally blown.”

She gushes with a newfound excitement. “Here’s an atmosphere where women first of all can be really aggressive and that’s okay. And have this outlet to be aggressive and athletic and strong. But also have the sense of camaraderie, you know. Beat the crap out of each other, but then go have beers afterward and laugh about it.”

Page trained three months for the movie. Bruises? “Really not that bad,” she insists. “I grew up playing sports … My brain goes, Oh, I wanna go faster.”

The Canadian actress began her show biz career at age 10. You might also recognize her as Kitty Pride in “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Or that tough little cookie in “Hard Candy,” a Lorena Bobbitt wannabe. She’s currently filming a sci-fi film called “Inception.”

In addition to the theatrics of roller derby, she likes the punk culture that permeates roller derby. The players all have derby names. “I was calling myself Hurt Vonnegut,” laughs Page. “Kurt Vonnegut’s one of my favorite authors. Drew gave me the nickname Small Newman. And still calls me Small. And very rarely calls me Ellen. I love it.”

You will too.
[from Solares Hill]

No comments: