“Whip It” [review]

Whip It movie poster

I am not sure where to begin with this film. I get all apeshit over roller derby. I remember the first time I was exposed to roller derby outside of my youthful memories of the Los Angeles T-Birds and everyone’s favorite puggy little Mexican, Ralphie Valladares!  It was during my last stint at Cal State Northridge and I was taking a cultural history class with a prof. named “Flannery”.  She was cool as hell.  She grew up in Austin and when I showed interest in Burlesque she challenged me to find the similarities between burlesque and the emerging world of women’s roller derby.

She pointed me towards the likes of the Texas Rollergirls and their brand of flat track awesome!  I soon discovered a deep love for the sport.  Similarly Bliss discovers roller derby on a shopping spree with her mother in Gods favorite city, Austin.  Bliss is drawn to these wheeled valkyries sporting ink and a strength she hungers for.

In a scene where Bliss attends her first match she is captivated by the magic that circles the track and works up and down on the banked walls.  Bliss approaches Maggie Mayhem and tells her that the rollergirls are her new heroes!  Maggie replies, “Why don’t you come to try outs and become your own hero?”  Thus begins the beautiful move towards Bliss’ self-discovery.

Bliss is in a place in her life where she struggles to establish her place in the world, free from the preying eyes of her mother, Brooke.  Brooke got knocked up at a young age and is trying to instill in her daughter a spirit of demure and class that she hopes will prevent her daughter from going down the road she has traveled.

This is a story of redemption, discovery, & hope.  This movie is full of powerful women riding 8 wheels to glory!  The men in the film seem broken and take a backseat to the powerful women in the story.

This is no movie about roller derby. This is a film about relationships, coming of age, and passion.  It is a film that I hope will empower many little girls to go out and join the ranks of these “HEROES”  and fight for their place in the hallowed banked walls of roller derby.

Drew Barrymore directs this film with the vigor of Sofia Coppola.  Barrymore’s scenes are full of life and beautifully and masterfully shot. She fills the story with plain, simple pictures into a complex world that does not really understand the explosive power held in roller derby.

The real life Maggie Mayhem, Shauna Cross, is the screenwriter and she gave Q. Tarantino a run for his money.  Her dialogue is magnificent.  It flows beautifully between charming to dangerous to breathtaking to victorious.  I hope we get more from Shauna!

I implore you to grab your skates and roll on over to the nearest theater to see this culture shaping film.  I also encourage you to support your local roller derby! Check out the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association for your nearest team!!!

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