The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Whip It

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Whip It”
Rated PG-13

Drumming, painting, rescuing bunnies — the sheer joy any hobby makes you feel can be overwhelming. They’re not jobs, but passionately and positively internalizing them as a calling can define our work, love, friendships and self-image.

An intensely sweet infusion of that rousing spirit transformed 2009’s roller-derby film “Whip It” — Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut — into an endorsement of the importance of seizing the now early, whatever “the now” might be.

Twee and tough, “Whip It” elbows aside sports-movie clichés with thoughtful intelligence, an emphasis on self-reliance and all-too-rare cinematic portrayals of strong women.

Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is a small-town Texan enamored by the big-city lure of roller-derby — a sport of self-assured, seriously fit women with wild stage names (Smashley Simpson, Rosa Sparks, Eva Destruction).

She sees an escape from a dead-end life and the teen pageant circuit, into which her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) has forced her.

Bliss picks up bruises, scrapes and wickedly toned muscles, but also her own sexuality, the wide-open spontaneity of her post-high school life and, eventually, an understanding for the upheaval her parents have endured.

Page, Harden and Daniel Stern (as Bliss’s father) share a great confrontational scene. They’re called ropes because sometimes you’ve got to be smashed against them to know from what they’re protecting you.

Plus, Barrymore shows an atmospheric flair for the rowdy rink, growing pains and, not surprisingly, daffy comedy. As Jimmy Fallon’s character says, indirectly commenting on “Whip It’s” totality, you will enjoy the everloving shit out of it.

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11 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Whip It”

  1. Brandon Scales says:

    This was a good movie. It was something I had never seen before I saw this movie. I guess haunted Flower can relate to this movie know that she does this know. Ellen Page was one courageous actress for doing this movie since she was small and everyone else was tall.

  2. jermey says:

    this movie was kewl the actors were great but one thing i really did not like about this movie is was it was too short the movie was all about a girl who did not was to play dress up and wanted to do what she wanted to do like roller derby she was very good at it and help the team win lots of things and also being kewl in school also ..

  3. Wendy says:

    This movie has a great story line. Finally something different then the same movies being remade. My husband also likes the movie.

  4. Travis says:

    This flick didn’t get the attention it deserved, Drew Barrymore directed the hell out of this one. I love it.

    Sidenote: anyone check out the Naptown RollerGirls? I hear it’s a blast.

  5. Melissa Long says:

    This movie is a gem. What a great story of empowerment for young girls. Kudos to Drew Barrymore for an outstanding directorial debut. If young women and men for that matter would heed the advice to, "Be your own hero", the world would be much better. Also, Jimmy Fallon rocks as usual!

  6. Sonya says:

    This is an absolutely great, fun, film. I love Drew and she does an amazing job with even being on the opposite side of the camera! It even motivated me to go watch roller derby in my own town, which was great!

  7. Joe Shearer says:

    As to why there aren’t more of them, there’s a certain amount of male animosity to chicks with attitudes getting rough. Having said that, this for me was an okay movie and the roller derby aspect was fun.

    There’s also an awesome fictionalized adaptation of "Lipstick and Dynamite" out there bouncing around in someone’s head right now.

    And that ex CAN suck it, even though I don’t know the guy. Suck it, ex, on behalf of Wes Anderson AND the Power Glove.

  8. Nick Rogers says:

    mia: Probably because outside of "A League of Their Own," they don’t make money. I realize roller-derby is niche, but I’m kind of shocked this only made $13 million. When your film-snob ex derides the "shitty" camerawork, he insults the great Robert D. Yeoman, who has beautifully shot all of Wes Anderson’s live-action films AND "The Wizard" with Fred Savage. I’d say the camerawork in the rink is as good at placing you in the action as is possible without being too showy or steroidal about it. (This is Austin roller-derby, after all.) Plus, your comments about the theme and story are dead-on. I also agree with you on this point: That ex can suck it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  9. Oh my God, I love this movie so much. Why aren’t there more awesome-women-doing-tough-sports movies? A League of Their Own (the film that made me a feminist at age 11) is the only other one I can think of.

    My film snob ex derides this movie becuase of the supposedly shitty camera work. Whatever. The story is phenomenal. He can suck it.

    Whip It! perfectly captures the moment when we discover who we want to be. Every teen has one. And just becuase the story is about a girl doesn’t mean it isn’t universal.

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