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Whip It (DVD Review)

25 Jan, 2010 By: Mike Clark

Whip it

Street 1/26/10
Box Office $13 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sexual content including crude dialogue, language and drug material.
Stars Ellen Page, Juliette Lewis, Drew Barrymore, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern.

Whip It is cute, conventional and at least easier to take than getting pummeled in the ribs by a professional adversary wearing roller skates.

Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut benefits from the fact that we can tell plucky lead Ellen Page is really diving into piles of roller derby mayhem. After Hard Candy and Juno, one might have speculated that here was an actress about to be limited in her casting opportunities, but she’s doing just fine (see also Page’s very funny turn in Smart People).

The film follows an arc that eschews many surprises. A mother (Marcia Gay Harden) wants daughter Page to follow maternal tradition by competing in Texas beauty pageants, but Page covertly prefers to be a derby queen in nearby Austin (anything to get out of slinging pork to local male pigs at a local eatery).

The story’s sisterly camaraderie (Lewis and Barrymore play partners in contusions) is not without appeal, and it’s fun to see the beer enthusiast dad played by Daniel Stern — 30 years after he was hanging out with bicyclists in the cult favorite Breaking Away.

The disc includes deleted scenes that were wisely cut — though there is one funny harangue by the derby team’s coach (Andrew Wilson) that’s capped by a character insight we don’t get in the movie.

Still missing on DVD is Robert Kaylor’s documentary Derby, which was one of the most critically praised releases of a great movie year: 1971.

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