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<< Entertainment >>

New Movie Review

"Whip It" (Filmed in Michigan!)

Comedy, Drama. Rated PG-13.

.

Photo credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page and Kristen Wiig in Whip It.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

Ellen Page (plays Bliss Cavendar), Marcia Gay Harden (plays her mom, Brooke), Daniel Stern (plays her dad, Earl), Kristen Wiig (plays her mentor, Maggie Mayhem), Juliette Lewis (plays Iron Maven, a rival player), Eve (plays Rosa Sparks, a teammate) and Jimmy Fallon stars as "Hot Tub" Johnny Rocket in the new film "Whip It."

This is Drew Barrymore's first film that she's directed and co-starred in. Barrymore appears in the movie as Smashly Simpson, one of Bliss's teammates on the derby team. The film is 111 minutes long and was released by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It is rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and drug material.

"I handpicked everybody," the Hollywood actress and director said at a roller skating event in Farmington Hills, Mich. last month. "I'm a very detail-oriented person. If there's one thing in this movie that you don't like, it's probably absolutely my fault. And hopefully, if there is something you like, then my hard work might have paid off. That would be a miracle."

"Whip It" is the coming-of-age story of Bliss Cavendar, who makes the transition from a girl who is being pressured by her parents to be in a beauty pageant to a grown-up adult who takes control of her life. She works as a waitress in a small-town diner. Bliss's true love is the sport of roller derby. It took Bliss a while to learn the sport, however by the end of the movie she became a pro.

Bliss falls in love with Oliver (Landon Pigg), who is a guitar player in a band. Oliver comes to the diner to see Bliss. The two end up falling in love. They go to a corn field and chat on the hood of their old car. Oliver looses the key to the car so the two go on a search to find the keys. He then announces that his band will be going on tour and he will be gone for a while.

Bliss looks up Oliver's band on the internet. She discovers that another girl is wearing her t-shirt that she gave to him. Oliver explains that it's just some random girl and they had no relationship together. Bliss doesn't believe him but kisses him anyway.

Bliss's parents, Brooke and Earl, become very suspicious of her. They are wondering why is she is coming home so late. Bliss brings home her duffel bag and her mom notices the roller skates. The parents get very upset with Bliss for not telling them about her sport. Earl researches her derby team on the internet and sees a video of his daughter on the derby rink. Brooke wants her daughter to stop going to roller derby while the dad strongly believes in it.

Bliss's derby team makes it all the way to the championship. Her mom finally shows up at the competition at the last minute. You'll have to see the film to see which team wins...

The film was made to look like Austin, Texas. However, much of the filming for the movie was done in southeast Michigan including scenes in Novi, Royal Oak, Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Troy, Saline, Ferndale, Birch Run and in Frankenmuth.

"It was one of the most amazing things I've ever done," said Vega Vendetta, a member of the Detroit Derby Girls and an extra in the film. "It was neat seeing Drew work and all the actors. Everything was so spot on, so quick, so organized. It was really amazing to see the behind-the-scenes process. She was very personal and would come up and hug us. She would let us know how good of a job we're doing. Late when we had long hours, sometimes 14 hours, she would pause everything and blare some loud music and get us dancing. She had a neat style how she directed."

Raquel Welch starred in a roller skating movie, Kansas City Bomber, that was released in 1972. When asked who is a better skater, Barrymore replied: "I love Raquel Welch. She gave our movie her blessing when we first started filming. She is like my hero. I'm going to say she's probably a better skater."

This new film was a little confusing to understand. As one who is not familiar with roller derby, I really didn't understand what was going on. I expected to see some historic places in Michigan but I could't find any that I've seen before. If you understand roller derby or just like Ellen Page or Drew Barrymore, then go see "Whip It."

Overall Grade: B

Related Story: Drew Barrymore goes roller skating with fans to promote "Whip It"

Related Story: Exclusive Interview with Drew Barrymore and extras in the film

Click here to visit the official website of the "Whip It" motion picture

 

Movie Poster credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures


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