Drew Barrymore laces up her skates
It’s tough to peg why Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut didn’t catch on when it spun through theaters last fall. The comedy on skates packs the same unfiltered jolts of grrrrrly-girl empowerment Barrymore likes to embrace in her acting gigs, but seamlessly transmits the actress’s spunky, fighting spirit to the terrific Ellen Page (“Juno”), who possesses an underdog quality of her own that we instantly cheer.
Page plays Bliss Cavendar, a Texas teen who’d rather risk her life on a circular roller derby court than compete in the phony beauty pageants favored by her overprotective mom (Marcia Gay Harden). After attending a tryout, Bliss finds herself competing alongside Austin’s sweet-centered derbie chicks, personified by Barrymore, Eve, Kristen Wiig and Zoe Bell.
Page and Barrymore form a winning combination. The first-time director nails her film’s pivotal emotional scenes, while the young starlet powers “Whip It” through its minor pacing problems.
“Whip It” deserves a wider audience, and should find it now that it’s available on DVD. Look for an alternate opening, a handful of deleted scenes and a few 20tht Century Fox trailers on the new disc.
The movie – *** out of 4
The DVD – ** out of 4