For a first-time director, Drew Barrymore does a great job with roller-skating comedy Whip It. Full of exciting action, charismatic characters, a sweet romance and adorable 'BFF' moments, the typical coming-of-age movie will generate laughter, thrills and some serious self-reflection.
Introverted but bold at heart, Bliss (Ellen Page) is an unwilling beauty pageant regular, forced to compete by her mum (Marcia Gay Harden). Brought up in a dreary town, she longs for adventure, and soon finds it on the roller derby rink. She is fascinated by the fearless, empowered women and joins a team. But everything she cherishes starts to slip away when her secret life is exposed.
Barrymore fills the simple story with convincing emotions and realistic relationships. Thanks to great chemistry between Page and Harden, the director even makes the cliched mother-daughter conflict fresh.
Page is as appealing as ever, and the ensemble cast is no less engaging. But it's the witty best friend (Alia Shawkat) and Andrew Wilson's coach that steal the show.
The actors did their own stunts, and derby scenes were shot with handheld cameras, resulting in a realistic portrayal of the tough sport. The action is enhanced by a great soundtrack: hip, energetic tunes and subtler rock classics.
Despite being a bit predictable and chaotic at times, Whip It is entertaining, uplifting and sure to put a smile on your face.