I’m sure I’ll get mocked for admitting this but… one of the films I was most looking forward to seeing at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, was Drew Barrymore‘s directorial debut Whip It. Yeah, a rather unusual choice, but I’m a sucker for coming of age films, Ellen Page, and for that matter, most of the cast involved. The soundtrack listing was kinda awesome, and the concept of a teenager entering the world of roller derby screamed of potential.
So to say I was disappointed by the film, you must understand I went in with higher expectations than anyone realistically should. The film is what you might expect from Barrymore, and definitely feels like it was written and directed by first timers. The characters, for the most part, seem one-dimensional. We’ve seen this family before, in 100 movies and television shows. The roller derby team consists of cliches – the rocker girl, the stoner hippy chick…etc. And rarely do any of these characters transcend these pre-built molds. But this film does have heart.
Barrymore is a great producer, and put together an incredible ensemble cast, visually and musically stunning moments she’s been saving in her back pocket for over a decade. But most of it, for me, rang unauthentic. That said, it has a bunch of laughs, hits the right emotional notes, and is worth seeing.
I recorded a video blog with Liam from EmpireMovies, discussing the movie. You can watch that video blog after the jump.