I had high hopes for Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, Whip It, because she is one of my favorite actresses but much to my dismay, I was quite disappointed.
Whip It is the story of a girl, Bliss Cavendar, whose mom (like a lot of parents) tries to impose her own hopes and dreams on her daughter by "encouraging" her to participate in beauty pageants. Bliss soon discovers that she would much rather participate in roller derby than beauty pageants because that is her mom's dream not hers. But since she knows her parents would be against roller derby, she lies to them, joins a team, and participates in roller derby competitions under false pretenses. Her oblivious parents soon find out and are enraged. Soon her father starts supporting her but her mom is still against it. Will her mom ever support Bliss's passion for roller derby? The answer is just as predictable as the movie. The only unpredictable thing about the film was the fate of the love story that forms between Bliss and the member of a rock band, Oliver.
Tell me - what is so new about this story? It's the same old story and same old message that kids should stand up to their parents and do something they love rather than what their parents force them to do. It shows that when parents create an environment where the kids are expected to follow certain paths, kids are forced to lie. Therefore, parents should create a more encouraging environment and let their kids do what they love to do rather than imposing their own hopes and dreams on them. The movie seemed like a broken record; the only new part was roller derby.
The best performance by far was by Juliette Lewis as Iron Maven. Ellen Page proved once again that she is extremely talented. She gave just as good a performance as the main lead, Bliss Cavendar, as she did in Juno. Kristen Wiig gave a disappointing performance as Maggie Mayhem; it felt like she was holding back, which was quite surprising since she is so good on SNL. Drew Barrymore's character as Smashley Simpson didn't have much weight in the film - I don't know if that was a deliberate effort since she was the director but her character seemed irrelevant. Marcia Gay Harden could have given a much better performance as Brooke Cavendar, the overbearing mother.
Overall, I think the movie had potential but there just seemed to be something missing. Even though the story was predictable (which happens quite often), I think it could have been told in a much more interesting way. Watch this film at your own risk or wait for Drew Barrymore's next directorial venture in the hopes that it will be better.