Whip It (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Drew Barrymore|
|Produced by||Drew Barrymore
|Screenplay by||Shauna Cross|
|Based on||Derby Girl
by Shauna Cross
Marcia Gay Harden
|Music by||The Section Quartet|
|Cinematography||Robert D. Yeoman|
|Editing by||Dylan Tichenor|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Running time||111 minutes|
Whip It is a 2009 comedy-drama film written by Shauna Cross, based on Cross's novel Derby Girl. The film is directed and co-produced by Drew Barrymore in her directorial debut. It stars Ellen Page as a teenager from the fictional town of Bodeen, Texas, who joins a roller derby team.
The film received generally positive reviews from critics but was a disappointment commercially.
Whip It opens five minutes before a beauty pageant in Bodeen, Texas, where one of the contestants is missing. Backstage, 17-year-old misfit and rebel Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) regrets accepting a dare from her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) which involved dying her hair blue before the pageant. Bliss tries to wash the dye out but ends up going on stage with her hair blue, losing the pageant, much to the disappointment of her mother, Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden). With both Bliss and her mother upset about what happened, Brooke offers to take her daughter shopping in Austin, where Bliss witnesses three roller-derby girls drop promotional flyers at a clothes shop. Mesmerized by them, Bliss takes one of the flyers and learns of an exhibition derby match, and asks Pash to come with her. After the team is defeated in the exhibition, Bliss meets the Hurl Scouts, captained by Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) and coached by Razor McGee (Andrew Wilson). When Bliss tells Maggie that the Hurl Scouts are her new heroes, Maggie tells her to "Put some skates on, be your own hero."
Bliss lies about her age and decides to attend try outs, keeping it a secret from her parents, who would never approve. Razor can see that Bliss has natural talent and tells her that she has made the cut, welcoming her to the Hurl Scouts. Bliss plays well in her first game, but the Hurt Scouts lose. At the after party, Bliss discovers a connection she has with Oliver (Landon Pigg), a 19-year-old lanky teenage heart breaker and guitarist. He compliments her taste in music, and as they talk, Bliss misses her chance to tell him she's a Derby Girl when she is thrown into a hot tub by Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis), the captain of The Holy Rollers - a rival Derby team. Later at the diner where Bliss works with Pash, she spots Oliver outside in his car and gets Pash to cover for her. Oliver drives Bliss to the arcade where he attempts to impress her with his pinball skills, but after that fails, the two end up driving somewhere secluded and singing together. The next night, the Hurl Scouts win their first game of the season, of which Oliver is in crowd attendance. The Scouts are forced to take their game more seriously and put faith in their coach. After Bliss' performance, she becomes the team's point scorer as their star Jammer, and picks her Derby name as Babe Ruthless.
As she and Oliver spend more time together, Bliss falls for him and is heartbroken when he tells her his band is going on tour around the states. Bliss develops a strong relationship with Maggie Mayhem as the Hurl Scouts climb the Derby leader boards, but has trouble keeping a strong relationship with her mother, who is disappointed in her rebellious activities and her lack of interest in her beauty pageants. After the Hurl Scouts win another match, police show up at the warehouse they are held and order it to be cleared out. In the evacuation, Iron Maven overhears Bliss tell an interrogative police officer that she is only 17. Pash is spotted with a drink in her hand and arrested on the spot for being under-age. Bliss however has disappeared with Oliver and is of no support. Late that night, the two of them break into a public swimming pool where they make love and spend the night together, trading shirts to remember each other while he's away.
In the morning, Bliss comes home to her angry parents who received a phone-call from Pash's parents, and know about her involvement in Roller Derby. Bliss argues with her mother who is furious that she lied, however Bliss shoots back that she is sick of her mom forcing a housewife lifestyle on her, and she just wants to be her own person. When Iron Maven threatens to tell the League about Bliss' real age, she breaks and is forced to reveal it to her own team. Despite being shocked, the Hurl Scouts accept her and prepare for their final match. Bliss misses Oliver terribly, who won't return her calls. After she looks on his band's website, she finds a photo of him with another girl wearing the shirt Bliss gave him. She is heartbroken and seeks support from her mother, and the two make up with Bliss promising to compete in the Blue Bonnet Pageant, an annual event and very important to Brooke. She is later horrified to discover that the pageant and the final Derby Match between The Hurl Scouts and the Holy Rollers fall on the same night. She decides that her relationship with her mother is more important and attends the pageant.
Meanwhile Bliss' father (Daniel Stern) finds footage and promotional photos of her on the website and realizes how much she enjoys being Babe Ruthless. He talks Brooke into letting Bliss skip the pageant for her chance at happiness. Minutes before the League Championship, Bliss is confronted by Oliver who has returned from his tour. She accuses him of cheating on her, and when he denies, she is still heartbroken that he never called and breaks up with him.
Babe Ruthless and Iron Maven go head to head on the track, with the game neck and neck for its duration. The Holy Rollers barely defeat the Hurl Scouts, who are shattered at first but get past it, chanting "We're number two!" which is what they shouted when they lost their first match. While still upset with Bliss, Brooke finds the script to her daughter's speech that she would have read had she attended the pageant, in which she claims her mother to be the person she admires most. Pash is accepted into a college in New York, whereas Bliss pursues her love for Roller Derby and expresses interest in moving to Austin. The film closes with Bliss sitting on the roof of the diner, reflecting on her life as of late.
(in order of appearance)
- Ellen Page as Bliss Cavendar (Babe Ruthless)
- Alia Shawkat as Pash
- Marcia Gay Harden as Brooke Cavendar
- Daniel Stern as Earl Cavendar
- Carlo Alban as Dwayne (Birdman)
- Landon Pigg as Oliver
- Jimmy Fallon as 'Hot Tub' Johnny Rocket
- Kristen Wiig as Maggie Mayhem
- Zoë Bell as Bloody Holly
- Eve as Rosa Sparks
- Drew Barrymore as Smashley Simpson
- Andrew Wilson as Razor
- Juliette Lewis as Iron Maven
- Ari Graynor as Eva Destruction
- Har Mar Superstar as Fight Attendants Coach
Screenwriter Shauna Cross adapted her 2007 young-adult novel Derby Girl for the screen and pitched the script to different production companies while simultaneously pitching its source material to various publishers. Once Barrymore got involved, she and Cross worked for months on script revisions, with Barrymore pushing her to "avoid her story's tidier prospects, to make things 'more raw and open ended.'"
The film project was initially to be handled by Warner Independent Pictures, but Mandate Pictures took over after it was put into a turnaround. Production began summer 2008 in Michigan; principal photography began on July 26, taking place in and around Detroit, Saline, Ypsilanti, Michigan and Birch Run. Real roller girls were selected from local Michigan teams such as the Detroit Derby Girls, and the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls. Several scenes were also shot in Austin, Texas. Some scenes were also shot in Hamtramck, Michigan at Hamtramck High School as well as Ferndale, Michigan at Ferndale High School.
Critical reception for Whip It was generally positive; based on 176 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 85%, with an average score of 7.1/10. Metacritic calculated an average score of 68, based on 31 reviews.
A. O. Scott called the film "predictable", but said "You might, nonetheless, want to see this movie, even — or maybe especially — if you have seen Billy Elliot or Bend It Like Beckham. Familiarity is not always a bad thing, and if the script, by Shauna Cross, piles sports movie and coming-of-age touchstones into a veritable cairn of clichés, the cast shows enough agility and conviction to make them seem almost fresh." Roger Ebert said it's a "coming-together of two free spirits, Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page, and while it may not reflect the kind of female empowerment Gloria Steinem had in mind, it has guts, charm, and a black-and-blue sweetness." According to The Miami Herald, "Whip It is completely predictable from the first frame. It also is ridiculously, utterly entertaining. Drew Barrymore's smashing directorial debut harkens back to an era in which Hollywood studio pictures could still move and enthrall the audience while plying in hoary cliches."
Whip It was a financial disappointment. Initial studio estimates showed Whip It in a tie for #6 in its opening weekend, tying with the widely released Capitalism: A Love Story, and it wound up taking sixth place with $4,650,812 The film grossed $13,043,363 in North America. It grossed $3,589,672 in foreign movie sales, for a grand total of $16,633,035 world wide. Production cost of the film was $15 million.
The world premiere of the film was held at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada. The majority of the film's main cast attended the premiere. As part of the festivities, members of local league Toronto Roller Derby held an exhibition bout at Yonge Dundas Square in downtown Toronto. Toronto Roller Derby skaters, like those in other cities with major roller derby leagues, also helped promote the film in advance of the screening by wearing costumes from the film and skating around town and performing stunts while handing out flyers and giveaway items. Toronto Roller Derby credits their luck in being able to skate at the festival for helping expand their fanbase as well as their skater rosters.
|Soundtrack album by various artists|
|Released||September 29, 2009|
The film has a 58-song playlist, with a wide range of styles and genres. Nineteen tracks appear on the CD of the soundtrack, with additional tracks at various MP3 stores. According to Allmusic, "The disc is a blend of familiar old standbys (including a glittering remix of the Chordettes' "Lollipop") and indie acts (among them Barrymore's ex-boyfriend Fabrizio Moretti's band Little Joy), achieving the kind of safely edgy balance that embodies the Fox Searchlight aesthetic (that is, it's quirky enough to appeal to the cool kids, but never strays too far from the mainstream)."
- Track listing
- Tilly and the Wall – "Pot Kettle Black"
- Ramones – "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker"
- Cut Chemist featuring Hymnal – "What's the Altitude"
- The Breeders – "Bang On"
- The Raveonettes – "Dead Sound"
- Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – "Blue Turning Grey"
- Jens Lekman – "Your Arms Around Me"
- Gotye – "Learnalilgivinanlovin"
- Peaches – "Boys Wanna Be Her"
- Dolly Parton – "Jolene"
- 38 Special – "Caught Up in You"
- Har Mar Superstar featuring Adam Green – "Never My Love"
- Goose – "Black Gloves"
- The Ettes – "Crown of Age"
- Landon Pigg featuring Turbo Fruits – "High Times"
- Little Joy – "Unattainable"
- The Chordettes – "Lollipop (Squeak E. Clean & Desert Eagles remix)"
- The Go! Team – "Doing it Right"
- Apollo Sunshine – "Breeze"
- Turbo Fruits – "Fun Dream Love Dream" (Amazon MP3 version version track)
- Young MC – "Know How" (iTunes version bonus track)
- The Section Quartet – "The Road to Austin" (iTunes version bonus track)
- Radiohead - "No Surprises"
- Gilberto Gil - "Domingo no Parque" 
- "Whip It (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
- Almereyda, Michael (September 23, 2009). "Stepping Into the Skates of the Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- Swart, Sharon (2008-06-18). "Shauna Cross". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- Serba, John (2008-08-10). "Grand Rapids skaters roll 'em in Drew Barrymore movie "Whip It!"". The Grand Rapids Press (MLive.com). Retrieved 2008-08-12.
- Siegel, Tatiana (2008-01-15). "Ellen Page to 'Whip It!' for Barrymore". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- Goldstein, Gregg & Kit, Borys (2008-06-30). "Cast ready to roll on 'Whip It!'". The Hollywood Reporter (Nielsen Business Media). Archived from the original on 2008-07-02. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- "Whip It Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
- "Whip It reviews at Metacritic.com". Metacritic. CNET Networks. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
- Scott, A. O. (October 2, 2009). "Misfits With Big Hearts and Roller-Derby Grit". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- Ebert, Roger (September 30, 2009). "Whip It". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- Rodriguez, Rene (September 30, 2009). "Review: Whip It". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
- WEEKEND BOX OFFICE
- Block, Sheri (13 September 2009). "Barrymore whips up excitement for roller derby flick". CTV News. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
- "2009 championship bout!". November 21, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
- Whip It at what-song.com
- Whip It (Original Soundtrack) at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-06-30.