Whip It

For such a young woman, Drew Barrymore has led a full, rich life and has had an interesting career. In 1982 at age seven, she was in a blockbuster movie ("E.T."). She continued to work as an actress despite her stint in drug rehab when scarcely a teenager; she wrote a book about it but continued to work. In 1999 she ventured into producing movies, some in which she appeared ("Never Been Kissed") and in others she just furnished the voice ("Olive, The Other Reindeer"). With very few professional missteps, she soldiers on.

This time, she acts, produces AND directs a movie, and by no means has she embarrassed herself. In fact, I like the messages that provide the basis for the movie:
  • Love and respect your family;
  • have the courage to try something new;
  • dump your first love if s/he doesn't deserve you;
  • take your knocks and
  • try very hard to win!

For this action-filled movie about competitive roller-skating, she has wisely assembled an extremely game (they do most of their own skating) and capable cast:

  • Ellen Page ("Juno") is our heroine, a semi-shy misfit living with her parents (she 17) and a younger sister in a modest hamlet outside of Austin. She is saddled with a mother who is positive she can win a beauty pageant and who is pushing her hard toward that end.
  • Marcia Gay Hardin (won an Oscar for "Pollock") is her ambitious mother who wants her daughters to move beyond her own level: she's a mail carrier for the U.S. Post Office.
  • Daniel Stern (you probably remember him from "City Slickers" and "Home Alone") plays the amiable father of our reluctant beauty contestant.
  • Juliette Lewis ("The Other Sister") becomes our heroine's arch enemy when they encounter one another in an all-female roller derby.
  • Kristen Wiig ("Ghost Town") is a teammate who talks common sense to our heroine when her life derails.
  • Eve ("Flashbacks of a Fool") is another roller-skating team- mate named Rosa Sparks.
  • Drew Barrymore (see above) has a secondary role as Smashley Simpson, another skater.

This movie isn't as predictable as you might expect and the underlying messages are excellent. Barrymore has given generous screen time to supporting characters, so you will recognize many other faces. As an aside, the closing credits actually show the names along with the faces of many of the actors. I really appreciate that!