BLU-RAY REVIEW: Whip It
Drew Barrymore's directorial debut hits home video...
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Best known as the little girl from E.T. or - more recently - one of Charlie's Angels, Drew Barrymore has ridden the Hollywood bandwagon for so long, it's hard to believe she's never done time behind the camera. That said, if her directorial debut Whip It - starring Ellen Page, Marcia G ay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, and Jimmy Fallon - is any indication of the talent Barrymore brings to film making from this new perspective, let's hope the actress-turned-director takes more opportunity to continue in this line of work.
Whip It is fun, original, and down-to-earth, while at the same time edgy and somewhat standoffish. Real to life and yet surreal in a number of ways (roller derby, really?) Whip It seems like one of those films that - as a guy - you really want to tell everyone about, but don't want to admit you like. (But, hey, that's just me and writing this review telling everyone I liked it, so there...)
There's plenty of girl power in Whip It and rightfully so. A coming-of-age story starring Page as small town Texas girl Bliss Cavendar, who's life is fairly ho-hum. With a former beauty queen for a mom and a father who'd rather watch TV, Bliss is ready to leave the small town life for the excitement of the big city (didn't we all feel that way, no matter where we grew up?). Throughout this sports/teen/drama movie, Bliss finds the inner strength to reshape her world...and the most unlikely of ways. After a run-in with some tough ladies leads Bliss to inquire about roller derby, she soon begins sneaking off to try out and practice with the roller derby team the Hurl Scouts (love that name!).
One part teen-angst film, one part frustrated parent film, and two parts sports film, screenwriter Shauna Cross delivers a solid script which is both exciting and clever. Likewise, Barrymore's direction is excellent and no doubt better than most first time directors due in no small part to her acting background. Together - and along with Ellen Page of Juno fame - these ladies help bring to life Bliss' character on screen and deliver a heartfelt, wonderful tale.
The Whip It Blu-ray includes 2 discs, one of which is a digital copy of the film (a somewhat standard fair in this digital world in which we live). The main disc includes the film delivered in beautiful 1080p hi-def in the original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The film includes a number of audio tracks (English: 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, Spanish: 5.1 Dolby Digital and French: 5.1 Dolby Digital) as well a subtitles in each of these languages. The film's picture is beautiful and includes a gorgeous array of tight colors while the film's audio is crisp and easy to hear and understand.
Bonus material featured on the disc is extremely short and disappointing, including 9 deleted scenes and one (very short) featurette, Fox Movie Channel presents Writer's Draft: Shauna Cross of Whip It, which gives a very brief (3 min) touch on the story idea and Cross' past as a derby girl. Disappointing to say the least, additional bonus behind-the-scenes featurettes should have been included and, considering the film is based in roller derby, it would have been great to see a featurette on the sport, both past and present.
Overall, Whip It is an enjoyable film with a lot of great themes we've seen in other films. What makes Whip It great is it's original use of those themes, clever writing, and some really impressive directing by a first-time director who'll - if Whip It's critic acclaim is any sign - be back directing again soon.
- Jess C. Horsley