Saturday, September 26, 2009

Whip It = Good!

I capped off a long saturday at work by meeting my trivia friend at the movies for the sneak preview of Whip It. Excellent choice. Enjoyable and works out some aggression.

Basic story is small town girl doing the standard thing, which in her town is beauty pageants, but is dissatisfied and doesn't fit in. Her best friend is also a bit of a misfit but has different aspirations. Girl (Bliss) somehow decides roller derby is her gig and colludes with best friend to do it on the sly. [anti-spoiler: ellen page does NOT get her teeth knocked out]. The standard scenarios follow: gets new crowd, gets new boyfriend from new crowd, explores more of world than previously had, starts to stand up for self in regular crowd, starts to get found out, gets busted big time, then has some choices to make. Not all of those choices would be standard, imho. Anyone who reads a lot of genre fiction knows there's a format to follow but the characters and detail give the story life. So even if this were a total formula movie, it would still be good fun. But it departs from standard in a couple of places and I think it made for a stronger, more enjoyable movie. The predictable bits aren't bad - it's more that I felt smart that I predicted them correctly when they happened which felt like a good payoff.

If blogger would let me do a livejournal-cut, I would use that, but here goes. Skip this paragraph to avoid SPOILERS! Seriously, I mean it youse guys. Also, If I could type without the thumbpad deciding I've moved my cursor mid-word, that would help too. Ok. Juno, I mean Babe Ruthless has a hell of a good date when her bff is having a bad night. Seriously, that is a date. He kind of sucks later, but as Mr. Right now, he's perfect. (Not to mention, but he's also my type.) In their final encounter, I want to have flake boy watch it. As for her, I wanted to say, "the fact that it ends doesn't mean it was a failure" which kind of fit the moral too. I like that being disappointed by a boy didn't dominate the film. In many "ditch the family to follow their dreams" movies, ditching the family is a point of pride. Not so here. I liked how they handled the family dynamic. It seemed a lot healthier than most. Might be pure fiction, might be based on real life, but I give credit for them showing how to spread ones wings without crushing all beneath you as you take off. I also liked that the rookie of the year could only do so much.

Ok, safe again, spoiler phobes. On to my quibbles: The expensive pageant dress was blah; I liked the off the shelf green one better. I've never seen a real roller derby match but even so, this looked a little soft so as not to wreck the actresses. I get that but it was still a bit tame. I hope the real derbygrrls go see this anyway for the fun. The derbygrrls aren't *quite* portrayed as hookers with a heart of gold, but rather badass hookers with hearts of gold. (The hookers bit is metaphorical, just using the proper idiom.) I kind of expected them to be nastier, even if I didn't want them to be nastier. Perhaps that was to keep it watchable for the impressionable teens moviegoers? I also expected more visible bruising or attempts to cover it up. I've never understood food fights.

Whip It is a fun film. The underdogs make good is a perennial favorite genre of mine. The lack of jittery-cam was appreciated too. I enjoyed it the whole way through. The names are awesome. The costumes are fun. The actresses are all adorable, except for Juliette Lewis, who's her usual badass self. Little Sister's big makeover is a hoot. Dad is a good dad. And I bet while you're watching you enjoy it enough that you don't realize that it stars mostly women, was written by a woman, was directed by Drew Barrymore who is a hard to categorize woman, and has some excellent music by women.

I was especially motivated to go see Whip It after watching the commercial for whatever movie Ray Romano has coming up - "a bunch of guys get older and take it badly" or some such and thinking I couldn't predict any role in it that was a decent role for even a supporting actress. It was all guy movie. It may be funny, but hasn't that been done to death? (Full disclosure, I might even see it. It could be genrebusting too, but why no obvious women of substance in this here new millenium?) Well, this is an almost all girl movie, but I think guys will like it. The women are hot and loud. There's action and there's action. Did I mention Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat are cute as buttons and they hang out with older hot women? What's not to like? It opens for real on Oct 2. Go see it. Take your impressionable teen to see it too.

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