I’m tempted to think the reason I wasn’t bowled over by Drew Barrymore’s comedy, Whip It, is because I don’t belong to the film’s target audience (young, female). I’m tempted — but that wouldn’t quite be true, and that’s because of a little gem that came out of Hollywood in 1992, another movie that wouldn’t seem to have someone like me in mind.
Whip It is the story of a small-town teenager named Bliss (Ellen Page) who joins a professional, all-female sports league and, in the process, grows up and finds greater understanding of friends and family. The whole women’s sports-league thing is a close cousin to Penny Marshall’s superior A League of Their Own, a film Whip It resembles in tone, if not execution.
Both films rely on a colorful supporting cast. League’s Rosie O’Donnell and Madonna are replaced here by Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, and Bliss’s other teammates. Tom Hanks, the grouchy but lovable baseball manager in League, is represented here by Andrew Wilson as the coach of the “Hurl Scouts,” a female roller derby squad. But the characters in Whip It are paper-thin; Wilson, for example, is no Hanks.
If derby names like “Babe Ruthless” and “Eva Destruction” are enough to whet your comedy whistle, then maybe Whip It will satisfy you. It’s a feel-good movie, an amusing enough way to spend two hours. But for me, this was done much better back in 1992. Grade: C+
Director: Drew Barrymore Cast: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Stern, Alia Shawkat, Andrew Wilson Release: 2009
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