“Whip It” – It’s just like every other teen movie

Michelle Nelson

“Whip It,” in theaters Oct. 2, is Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut. Photo courtesy of Fox SearchLight pictures
“Whip It,” in theaters Oct. 2, is Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut. Photo courtesy of Fox SearchLight pictures

Another stereotypical teenage movie — this time a coming-of-age tale about a girl from a small Texas town who is misunderstood with her emo-like style, her affinity for 80’s Christian metal bands and her forced participation in debutante beauty pageants.

Throw in some roller skates, a rink and a few elbows and you have “Whip It.”

Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut in the teenage dramedy, which opens in theaters Oct. 2.

Starring Ellen Page (“Juno”) as Bliss Cavendar, “Whip It” takes on the consistency of a made-for-film episode of the MTV show “Made.”

Bliss, 17, is somewhat of a misfit. She spends most of her time being fitted for dresses to participate in the next beauty pageant, or working at a barbecue shack with her best friend, Pash (Alia Shawkat, who you may recognize from her work in “Arrested Development”). But don’t let the beauty pageant scene fool you; Bliss isn’t your typical girly-girl. Armed with plenty of snarky comebacks, Bliss proves that she is a girl learning to find her own voice.

It isn’t until Bliss catches a glimpse of the roller derby girls at a mall that she finds an interest in the sport. Star-struck by these women with colorful hair, piercings and tattoos, Bliss is mesmerized by their wild, carefree energy.

Based on the roller derby team in the novel “Derby Girl” by Shauna Cross (herself a former Los Angeles Derby Doll), Bliss’ roller derby team, the Hurl Scouts, is most famous for the number of losses they manage to rack up in a single season. The team consists of a motley crew of women — Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig), Rosa Sparks (Eve), Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis) and Bloody Holly (Zoe Bell). Barrymore not only directs the film, but also plays derby girl “Smashley Simpson.” Even Bliss gets a cool nickname: “Babe Ruthless,” but only after she earns her skates, so to speak.

The film would not be complete without a romantic interest for the main character. Enter very cool rock singer and songwriter Oliver (Landon Pigg). Pigg has never acted before, and it shows. Why he got a major part, as opposed to the traditional cameo appearance singers usually make in films, I’ll never know. But his acting is on par with most of the dialogue in the film. I could not only predict what was going to be said next, but I felt I could almost predict what the parenthetical directions were in the script.

The most unfortunate part of what had the potential to be a great movie is its run of the mill predictability and bland dialogue. On the other hand, the highlight of the film is its roller derby action. True to life, the roller derby scenes capture the essence of how the sport is actually played.

The standout character of the movie is Coach Razor (Andrew Wilson). He was the most entertaining character despite playing only a minor role, and it’s a shame he wasn’t incorporated more throughout the film.
Although the movie followed the teenage angst dramedy formula, it surprisingly does not end with a clichéd happily-ever-after finish. There are a few curve balls at the end. Not among them was the cliché blooper reel shown at the end of the script.

This film is definitely suited for your little sister. You, probably not — unless you are a roller derby skater and have some ties to the movie in that sense. If you want see the movie to get a taste of Barrymore’s directing skills, save your money. The only taste that will be left in your mouth is the taste of stale crackers. This movie has been done before.