Tag Archives: Drew Barrymore

Whip It film review

Whip It is such a great dynamic title for a film.  Roller derby – with its punning names, colourful costumes and the opportunity to see pretty girls on rollerskates beating each other up – is a great subject matter. And Drew Barrymore, an actress who seems a whole lotta fun, making her directorial debut with said film featuring a mostly-female cast seems a great idea. Shame then, that Whip It doesn’t quite capitalise on all the potential greats I’ve listed.

Despite the prospect of roller derby carnage, Whip It turns out to be a fairly generic indie coming-of-age movie. Ellen Page reprises her role as Juno – sorry takes on the role of Bliss Cavendar (see, she even has the indie-film requisite of idiosyncratic name), small-town girl with big-time ambitions to be the next roller derby star. This doesn’t tally with mother’s (Marcia Gay Harden) ambitions for her to be the next beauty pageant queen, nor with queen bee skater Iron Maven’s (Juliette Lewis) ambitions to retain top-of-the-league status. The next 100 minutes will see Bliss discover love, life and herself in true indie-movie style, with lots of quirky moments, acoustic-sounding songs and wistfully-framed cinematography along the way (the end shot is so indie it hurts… actually hurts, somewhere in the gut, I think).

In truth, Page’s performance is solid, un-showy and most importantly, believable. Far less irritating than the ever-quipping Juno, it anchors the film in reality– sometimes a little too much when you want Whip It to take off into the outlandish fishnet, fake eyelash and fisticuff-filled world of roller derby. Marcia Gay Harden, one-time winner of an Oscar, is a perennial feature of those ‘Whatever happened to…’ lists but on the grounds of this performance, she fully deserves to be back with a bang. Her portrayal of Brooke Cavendar is nicely-nuanced and she resists the urge to play the character more sympathetically. I enjoyed Juliette Lewis’ panto-turn as the villain of the piece and there’s sterling support from Arrested Development’s Alia Shawcat as Brooke’s bessie Pash (see, another weird name) and Kristen Wiig, RnB star Eve and Drew Barrymore herself as Brooke’s roller derby pals. Such is Barrymore’s innate watchability that you can’t help but want more screen-time of her brawltastic character, Smashley Simpson.

Whip It is a move from roller derby that gives the skater a burst of extra speed and to be honest, the film could do one. It’s never especially funny, or especially dramatic, but that means it’s not especially bad either. The whole thing has a certain charm that makes it impossible to dislike but for a film purportedly about rollerskating, it could have done with a lot more of it as its finest, funnest and most exciting moments come courtesy of the roller derby track.

During the credits, we get some deleted scenes and bloopers that show the cast having a ball – true to Barrymore form, it looked really fun to make. Shame a bit more of that freewheeling fun didn’t translate itself to the finished product.

6/10

Red Carpet Rundown: Drew Barrymore

From those who nailed their red carpet look, to those that failed. Drew Barrymore’s been sweeping the boards with her performance in made-for-television movie Grey Gardens, yet the only awards these outfits will be getting are the ‘worst dressed’ ones.

Atelier Versace (left) – It’s frustrating because her Golden Globes dress is almost nice. However, remove all the awful elements from it – that’s the colour that makes her look naked despite the very visible bra, the slight case of VPL and the strange fungus-like growths sprouting from her hip and shoulder – and the only thing it has left going for it is the nice subtle shimmer.

Monique Lhullier (right) – Sadly, her SAGs dress is not even almost nice. It’s a full-on monstrosity. It looks like a lampshade… no wait, as if that wasn’t bad enough, it looks like two lampshades. Is the bottom part made of denim?! I’m not usually a make-up Nazi for the red carpet (who cares what colour eye shadow they’re wearing? Unless they’ve got it very wrong, you really shouldn’t be squinting at a patch of skin about an inch big) but this nude look is so wrong. Call Missing Persons, Drew’s lips have disappeared. On top of everything else, her hair is a mess; I can just about believe that the brassy shade of yellow and obvious roots are tricks of the light yet there is no explanation for the fact that it looks like it hasn’t seen a brush recently. Maybe it ran away with her lips.

Favourite? – The Versace is the less grotesque of the two. Hardly a ringing endorsement, though