Whip It might not be the best advertisement for the sport of roller derby. It shows the league in what should be taken as some negative light, though it’s all intended to be fun. The tough chicks do rule though, so since I’m not responsible for PR for the general sport, I’m into it.
Review: Whip It
As a sports movie, it’s got good montages of training and going through the game season. It explains the rules of the game for us so that the action makes sense. It’s shot clearly but with energy to keep it exciting.
Now roller derby looks awesome but the movie seems to advocate unsportsmanlike behavior. They do a lot of posturing and tough talk. I hope real athletes have more respect for their fellow competitors. The film also seems to advocate anarchy, as if it’s cool that the players don’t listen to their coach. I hope real athletes are more disciplined. At least the coach knows how to handle them.
There are some good values in the film too, besides just making the sport look awesome. It advocates picking your battles. You should placate your parents when you can if you have something really important you’ll need to fight for. I like the way she confronts them. She’s not hysterical or immature and the family actually gets somewhere constructively.
Little Ellen Page is adorable. She looks so happy skating around kicking ass. Bliss is a real character for her. She’s definitely not overcompensating like all the other derby girls, and she’s far from the cool hipster persona that could have typecast her.
The other roller girls don’t have any distinct personalities personalities. They’re all angry girls. Some may have outside lives but it all manifests the same. Bliss also has the usual sarcastic best friend.
It’s also the typical story of an underground world that provides respite from the boring society that would hold her back, but it’s a good world to be in. Although, should we really be rooting for a spry teenager to defeat veteran players 20 years her senior? That doesn’t seem like a fair contest, but I guess it was good enough for Rocky Balboa.
There are things blatantly set up to make you feel, but there’s a good energy to the story and its values. There is some artificial whimsy, like the Marco Polo game. They do have a food fight in an effort to be adorable, which seems like a waste for all the starving orphans out there. The underwater love scene is interesting though, and really hot.
I feel like I could either be really hard on the film for taking the easy road in so many aspects, or I could defend it for the chances it takes and the genre elements it subverts. I don’t feel like doing either. It’s perfectly fine, offers some good action, and fun scenes. It’s still a movie and it does all it promises, so why get all worked up?