The Reel Review


A teenage girl in a small Texas town discovers her life’s true passion after she auditions for – and wins – a spot on the Hurl Scouts roller derby squad in nearby Austin. Ellen Page (now Elliot Page), Kristen Wiig, Marcia Gay Harden and Juliette Lewis star in this coming-of-age sports dramedy co-starring and directed by Drew Barrymore. It was adapted by Shauna Cross from her 2007 young adult novel, Derby Girl.

Drew Barrymore, Ellen (Elliot) Page and Kristen Wiig in Whip It

With a fun soundtrack and hilarious team names like the Holy Rollers and the Fight Attendants and skater names like Smashly Simpson, Rosa Sparks, Jaba the Slut, Eva Destruction and Princess Slaya, Whip It is a winsome, cleverly written, feel-good story about camaraderie, teamwork and finding one’s tribe – especially when that tribe doesn’t fit the more mainstream norm.

As Bliss Cavender (aka Babe Ruthless), Page portrays considerable character growth and independence with a charming ensemble cast that, in addition to the aforementioned stars, includes the rapper Eve, Ari Grayner (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist), Andrew Wilson (older brother of Luke and Owen Wilson), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), actress/stuntwoman Zoë Bell (Malignant, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Daniel Stern (Home Alone) and Jimmy Fallon.

Kristen Wiig, Drew Barrymore, Zoe Bell, Eve, Wilson, Ellen (now Elliot) Page in Whip It

While Whip It has all the usual sports dramedy clichés leading up to the big finale between the Hurl Scouts and their big rivals led by a spot-on Lewis, the biggest heartfelt moment is saved for the very end, when Marcia Gay Harden, as Bliss’ domineering, traditionalist, pageant-loving mom, gets an endearing message about “following your Bliss” much in the style of the roller derby film’s signature move. Drew, you whipped it. Well done.


Shauna Cross

Whip It screenwriter Shauna Cross skated Roller Derby with the Los Angeles Derby Dolls and also skated under the name Maggie Mayhem with a team of rogue cops called the Sirens.

• Rachel Piplica and Kristen Adolfo, who play The Manson Sisters, skated in real life for the Tough Cookies, the team on which the Hurl Scouts was based.

• The are more than 2000 amateur Roller Derby leagues worldwide, most of them female, and more than half of them in the United States.

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