Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Whip It


This is Drew Barrymore’s first job as a director. She has a small part, but the star is Ellen Page, who was so good in Juno and Hard Candy. The story concerns a girl in a small Texas town not far from Austin. Her mother is entering her in beauty pageants, which she is totally uninterested in. She discovers the world of roller derby, practices, gets good at it, and joins the Hurl Scouts as Babe Ruthless, and is soon their star jammer. She feels incredible empowerment. But she’s underage, her parents find out, and … well, there’s nothing really surprising here, but it’s fairly well done.

We once saw the L.A. Derby Dolls skating in a parade in Echo Park, and I wrote it up, mentioning that, although these girls were clearly athletes, the games were rigged. Somehow one of the Dolls found the article and wrote me an indignant email denying it. (I can’t remember if it was Broadzilla or Janis Choplin. Might have been somebody else entirely.) It didn’t seem like a good idea to antagonize these ladies, so I pointed out that when this crazy sport got started it was like pro wrestling, everyone admitted it was all staged, but if they were now serious about it I believed them. Whatever. Just watch ten minutes of it and you’ll see that it is exciting and can be brutal. It’s not anything I’d ever be interested in, but these ladies are clearly passionate about it. There’s no money in it, I think they all have other jobs to pay the rent. So more power to them.