Whip It (film)

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Whip It
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDrew Barrymore
Screenplay byShauna Cross
Based onDerby Girl
by Shauna Cross
Produced byDrew Barrymore
Barry Mendel
CinematographyRobert D. Yeoman
Edited byDylan Tichenor
Music byThe Section Quartet
Mandate Pictures
Vincent Pictures
Flower Films
Rye Road Productions
Babe Ruthless Productions
Barry Mendel Productions
Dune Entertainment
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • September 13, 2009 (2009-09-13) (TIFF)
  • October 2, 2009 (2009-10-02) (United States)
Running time
111 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million[1]
Box office$16.6 million[1]

Whip It is a 2009 American sports comedy-drama film directed by Drew Barrymore in her directorial debut and written by Shauna Cross, based on her 2007 novel Derby Girl. The film is co-produced by Barrymore and Barry Mendel. It stars Elliot Page[a] as a teenager from the fictional town of Bodeen, Texas, who joins a roller derby team. The film also stars Barrymore, Alia Shawkat, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern, Carlo Alban, Landon Pigg, Jimmy Fallon, Kristen Wiig, Zoë Bell, Eve, Andrew Wilson, Juliette Lewis, and Ari Graynor.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2009 and was theatrically released on October 2, 2009 in the United States by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It received positive reviews from critics but was a box office disappointment, grossing $16.6 million worldwide against its $15 million budget.[2] It received two WIN Award nominations for Outstanding Actress, as well as Feature Film for Page and Barrymore, respectively. Whip It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 26, 2010 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.


Bliss Cavendar is a teenager in the small town of Bodeen, Texas. She has lost interest in the beauty pageants that her mother, former beauty queen Brooke, pressures her to win.

While shopping in Austin with her mother, Bliss is intrigued by three roller derby team members she encounters. She and her friend Pash attend a roller derby bout where they see the "Holy Rollers" defeat the "Hurl Scouts". Bliss lies about her age and tries out for the Hurl Scouts, who give her the derby name "Babe Ruthless," and she becomes friends with her teammates who include Maggie Mayhem, Bloody Holly, Rosa Sparks, and Smashley Simpson. The Hurl Scouts, while enthusiastic and close knit, rarely win, but chant, "We're number two!" after losing a match, to the frustration of their coach, Razor.

Iron Maven of the Holy Rollers resents Bliss's talent and youth. Bliss soon realizes she needs to be merciless in roller derby, which also changes other aspects of her life. She stands up to a bully at school and starts dating a lanky musician named Oliver, to whom she loses her virginity while underwater before he leaves on a tour, taking a T-shirt Bliss gave him to remember her by, in exchange for his jacket.

The Hurl Scouts continue to lose. Razor convinces them to change their ways after paying a rival team to use one of his plays during a bout against the Hurl Scouts, showing them how much better they could be. After the bout, Iron Maven comes to gloat about the Hurl Scout's failure. This leads to Rosa Sparks telling Bliss to forget what she had previously said about winning not mattering - Rosa wants to beat "that cocky bitch" (Iron Maven).

The team begins rising in the ranks, soon heading for a championship match against the Holy Rollers. The Hurl Scouts start to become more and more popular, with Babe Ruthless (Bliss) becoming the new poster girl for the town's roller derby, foisting Iron Maven off from the posters and website.

Bliss's parents discover her involvement in roller derby when Pash is arrested at the arena for an open container violation and underage drinking. Pash is furious with Bliss for leaving her by herself, simply so she could go and find Oliver, which led to her arrest. While searching for Oliver, Bliss is identified by a police officer, who notes that she is only seventeen and a long way from home. Iron Maven overhears the conversation, realizing that Bliss should not be playing for the Hurl Scouts. When she next sees Bliss at the track, Iron Maven tells her that she knows she is underage and that she should not bother lacing up her skates, implying that she will tell the rest of the Hurl Scouts, the Roller Derby league, and the police if Bliss continues skating.

When Bliss's parents demand she give up roller derby, she runs away from home and stays with Maggie, discovering she has a young son. To prevent Iron Maven from ruining her career with the Hurl Scouts, Bliss gathers Razor and her teammates together and tells them her real age. While they are all shocked, stressing about the various issues this could cause, Maggie says that she is still a Hurl Scout and could skate as long as she gets permission from a parent.

When dropping her at school the next day, Maggie gives Bliss perspective on the difficulties of being a parent, saying she should not be so hard on her own mother - just because she is wrong about roller derby, it does not mean she is wrong about everything.

Bliss sees a picture of Oliver on the band's website of him with another girl, who is wearing her t-shirt. Heartbroken, she goes home to her mother, who comforts her. Bliss gives up roller derby and resumes her pageant career so as not to hurt her family or friends any further, and reconciles with Pash.

On the day of the pageant, which is the same day as the roller derby championship, Bliss's father goes onto the roller derby website and, seeing Bliss as the new poster girl, tries to convince his wife to let Bliss abandon the pageant and go join the Hurl Scouts in their championship game. She refuses to agree to Bliss playing roller derby, but, as her father agrees, it means Bliss can skate in the championship match against the Holy Rollers.

The Hurl Scouts narrowly lose the championship match to the Holy Rollers, but they still happily come together and chant, "We're number two!" While at the match, she is approached by Oliver, who denies cheating on Bliss, but she dumps him anyway for never calling her during the month he was away. She and Iron Maven come to a mutual respect. Bliss's mother is still not entirely supportive of roller derby, but accepts that Bliss now knows what makes her happy and is charting her own course in life.



Production and filming[edit]

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.'"[3] The film project was initially to be handled by Warner Independent Pictures, but Mandate Pictures took over after it was put into a turnaround.[4] 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 derby players were selected from local Michigan teams such as the Detroit Derby Girls, and the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls.[5] Several scenes were also shot in Austin, Texas.[6][7] Some scenes were also shot in Hamtramck, Michigan at Hamtramck High School as well as Ferndale, Michigan at Ferndale High School. Whip It was produced by Barry Mendel and Drew Barrymore; a co-production between Mandate Pictures and Barrymore's Flower Films. The film was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures.


On August 12, 2007, it was announced that Elliot Page would play the lead role in the film, while Alia Shawkat, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern and Carlo Alban were in early talks to join the cast. On August 14, 2007, Landon Pigg, Jimmy Fallon, Kristen Wiig, Zoë Bell, Eve, Drew Barrymore and Andrew Wilson were also in final talks to join the film, Juliette Lewis was added to the cast, playing Iron Maven (a play on Iron Maiden) and on August 18, 2007, Ari Graynor and Har Mar Superstar joined the cast of the film, playing Eva Destruction (a play on Eve of Destruction) and the Fight Attendants Coach. Whip it is the feature-film debut of Pigg.


The Section Quartet scored the music for the film and on its soundtrack. The soundtrack also contains "Knocked Up" performed by Kings Of Leon, "Pot Kettle Black" performed by Tilly and the Wall, "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" performed by Ramones, "What's the Altitude" performed by Cut Chemist and Hymnal, "Bang On" performed by The Breeders, "Dead Sound" performed by The Raveonettes, "Blue Turning Grey" performed by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Your Arms Around Me" performed by Jens Lekman, "Learnalilgivinanlovin" performed by Gotye, "Boys Wanna Be Her" performed by Peaches, "Jolene" performed by Dolly Parton, "Caught Up in You" performed by 38 Special, "Never My Love" performed by Har Mar Superstar and Adam Green, "Black Gloves" performed by Goose, "Crown of Age" performed by The Ettes, "High Times" performed by Landon Pigg and Turbo Fruits, "Unattainable" performed by Little Joy, "Doing it Right" performed by The Go! Team, "Breeze" performed by Apollo Sunshine, "Kids" performed by MGMT, "Fun Dream Love Dream" performed by Turbo Fruits, "Know How" performed by Young MC, "The Road to Austin" performed by The Section Quartet, "No Surprises" performed by Radiohead, "Domingo no Parque" performed by Gilberto Gil, "Lollipop" performed by Squeak E. Clean and Desert Eagles and other songs performed by other song performers.


Theatrical release[edit]

Whip It was theatrically released on October 2, 2009 in the United States. Fox Searchlight Pictures distributed the film to 1,721 screens in the United States.[1]


Toronto Roller Derby skaters play an exhibition bout at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of Whip It, September 13, 2009

The world premiere of the film was held at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[8] 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.[8] 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.[9]

Home media[edit]

Whip It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 26, 2010 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.


Critical response[edit]

Eve was praised by critics for her performance.

Critical reception for Whip It was generally positive. As of September 2023, the film holds an 85% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 193 reviews with an average score of 7/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "While made from overly familiar ingredients, Drew Barrymore's directorial debut has enough charm, energy, and good-natured humor to transcend its many clichés".[10] Metacritic calculated an average score of 68, based on 32 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11]

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."[12] Roger Ebert said it's a "coming-together of two free spirits, Drew Barrymore and [Elliot] 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."[13] 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."[14]

Box office[edit]

Whip It was financially unsuccessful.[2][15][16] 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.[17] 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 worldwide. Production cost of the film was $15 million.[1]


Year Award Category Nominee Result
2009 Alliance of Women Film Journalists Perseverance Award Drew Barrymore Nominated
Stockholm Film Festival Bronze Horse Award Drew Barrymore Nominated
Women Film Critics Circle Awards Best Comedic Actress Elliot Page Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards Outstanding Actress Feature Film Elliot Page Nominated
Drew Barrymore Nominated
2010 Dorian Awards Campy Film of the Year Whip It! Nominated


Whip It
Soundtrack album by
various artists
ReleasedSeptember 29, 2009
GenreMovie Soundtrack
LabelRhino Entertainment
ProducerVarious Artists

The film has a 58-song playlist, with a wide range of styles and genres.[18] 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)."[19]

Track listing[edit]

  1. Tilly and the Wall – "Pot Kettle Black"
  2. Ramones – "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker"
  3. Cut Chemist featuring Hymnal – "What's the Altitude"
  4. The Breeders – "Bang On"
  5. The Raveonettes – "Dead Sound"
  6. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – "Blue Turning Grey"
  7. Jens Lekman – "Your Arms Around Me"
  8. Gotye – "Learnalilgivinanlovin"
  9. Peaches – "Boys Wanna Be Her"
  10. Dolly Parton – "Jolene"
  11. 38 Special – "Caught Up in You"
  12. Har Mar Superstar featuring Adam Green – "Never My Love"
  13. Goose – "Black Gloves"
  14. The Ettes – "Crown of Age"
  15. Landon Pigg featuring Turbo Fruits – "High Times"
  16. Little Joy – "Unattainable"
  17. The Chordettes – "Lollipop (Squeak E. Clean & Desert Eagles remix)"
  18. The Go! Team – "Doing it Right"
  19. Apollo Sunshine – "Breeze"
  20. MGMT – "Kids"
  21. Turbo Fruits – "Fun Dream Love Dream" (Amazon MP3 version track)
  22. Young MC – "Know How" (iTunes version bonus track)
  23. The Section Quartet – "The Road to Austin" (iTunes version bonus track)
  24. Radiohead – "No Surprises"
  25. Gilberto Gil – "Domingo no Parque"


  1. ^ a b c Credited as Ellen Page


  1. ^ a b c d "Whip It (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Flint, Joe (26 October 2009). "Whip It' didn't need to get whipped at box office". LA Times. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  3. ^ Almereyda, Michael (September 23, 2009). "Stepping Into the Skates of the Director". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  4. ^ Swart, Sharon (2008-06-18). "Shauna Cross". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (2008-01-15). "Ellen Page to 'Whip It!' for Barrymore". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b Block, Sheri (13 September 2009). "Barrymore whips up excitement for roller derby flick". CTV News. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  9. ^ "2009 championship bout!". November 21, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  10. ^ "Whip It". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  11. ^ "Whip It Reviews". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved November 1, 2021.
  12. ^ Scott, A. O. (October 2, 2009). "Misfits With Big Hearts and Roller-Derby Grit". The New York Times. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 30, 2009). "Whip It". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
  14. ^ Rodriguez, Rene (September 30, 2009). "Review: Whip It". Miami Herald. Retrieved June 30, 2011.
  15. ^ Reynolds, Hurt (3 January 2010). "After Box Office Bummer, Whip It Heads Home". Derby News Network. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  16. ^ Gant, Charles (13 April 2010). "Sunny skies are a downer for UK box office". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  17. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for October 2-4, 2009 - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com.
  18. ^ Whip It at what-song.com
  19. ^ Whip It (Original Soundtrack) at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-06-30.

External links[edit]