DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Whip it - Blu-ray Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}There is a â"positive vibration" as once sang by the late Bob Marley that surrounds Drew Barrymore's directorial debut; an inspired buzz that is not soon killed as the credits to Whip It! roll. From the colorful iconographic picture of Ellen Page that graces the film's poster to the heartfelt angst at play throughout the storyline, this is a movie made original by a true spirit of cinema; a one-of-a-kind inspiration that few actors-turned-producers-turned-directors accomplish in their first outing.

Whip It!Written by Shauna Cross (based on her book Derby Girl), Whip It! tells the story of high schooler Bliss Cavender's (the charming Ellen Page) desire to escape the clutches of her mother's (the always effective Marcia Gay Harden) beauty pageant wishes by doing something she truly enjoys roller-derby. In a total disregard for the wishes of her family (which includes Daniel Stern as her father) and her own personal safety, Bliss lies about her after-school activities and her age in order to make the all-girl roller-derby team in Austin, Texas. What she discovers on the proverbial â"other side of the tracks" is a new family and new way of viewing her world and whole new set of heroes; familiar faces of cinema that include Kristen Wiig (doing an incredible job as Maggie Mayhem), Zoe Bell, Eve, Andrew Wilson (the other other Wilson brother), and Barrymore herself as Smashly Simpson. With a new attitude, a new team (the Hurl Scouts), a new boyfriend (the singer/songwriter Lance Pigg), and a brand new name (Babe Ruthless), Bliss soon discovers a whole new set of hard-hitting obstacles she must overcome before skating onto the bone-crushing rink of adulthood.

With wheels set to spin, Whip It! bursts onto the screen with a sense of confidence and energy usually reserved for the strongest of directors not a directorial debut by a Hollywood producer and star. Page, escaping somewhat of the traits that Juno and Hard Candy put her in, shines even in the simplest of moments. She shares some incredibly charming moments with her best friend, Pash (Alia Shawkat), both at school and the diner where they work. Shawkat (last seen in Arrested Development) herself is pretty natural and amazing in the movie and is proof as to why minor characters are so important in the storytelling process. Page's nemesis on and off the rink is Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis), leader of The Holy Rollers, and Lewis is at the top of her Page-provoking game with a dash of humanity to her character that adds another dimension of believability to the story.

Barrymore's film even rises above the glitches most debuts sink fast into as if the medium were quicksand. Whip It!, in fact, leaps in true roller-derby fashion over those holes in character and structure with a profound sense of purpose reminiscent of Hanks' That Thing You Do. Perhaps what assists the film the most is its sense of place. While some scenes were shot in Michigan, Whip It! comes across like an old-fashioned â"I Love You" note to the state of Texas. While, the city of Austin is featured the most throughout the film, it seems Barrymore is intent on showing audiences the rural side of the state, too. In scenes depicting Bliss' hometown of Bodeen, Texas and her after school job at the local diner, Barrymore casts a remarkably non-judgmental hue on all things rural and honest and gives the audience used to Hollywood's negative attitude about small towns - a much needed view of life in rural America... without the stereotypical simplicity.

What most audiences will appreciate; however, is the self-assured tone of the film. This is a movie that knows itself and its audience it's sweet without the syrup and funny without the foolishness; all of which simply endears itself to the audience even more. While comparatively it may not escape its 1970's B-movie vibe, Whip It! is much more than drive-in flair; it's honesty about life is starkly confessional. Like the girls that make up The Hurl Scouts, Whip It! will roll you over, thicken your skin with a battle-true bruising and then buy you a beer afterwards.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
1 Star
1 Star
DVD Experience
1 Star

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

To be honest, this is a very, very disappointing release: no commentaries from first-time director Barrymore or from the first-rate (and hilarious) cast. There isn't even a making-of featurette; it's that inadequate of a release. What the disc does come with are Deleted Scenes (16 minutes worth) that were necessarily cut from the feature. This includes a different opening which adds, well, absolutely nothing to the mythos of the film.

Screen Formats: 2.40:1

Subtitles: English; Spanish; Closed Captioned

Language and Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Supplements:

Commentary track

  • None

Featurettes

  • None

Deleted Scenes (16:00) - An alternate opening and eight other deleted or extended scenes.

Interviews:

  • Fox Movie Channel Presents Writer's Draft: Shauna Cross of Whip It (3:04) is a brief interview with the screenwriter, who explains the origins of the story in her own past as a derby girl.

Promo: And finally, a short promo (00:32) for the soundtrack album, which is available on CD or for the collector in us all - on two pink LPs.

Number of Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; Digital copy.

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