Movie review: 'Whip It'

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

In a small Texas town, a shrinking violet played by Ellen Page finds her bliss when she discovers roller derby.

Darren Michaels/Fox Searchlight Pictures/AP
Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page, and Kristen Wiig (l. to r.) are shown in a scene from "Whip It."

Drew Barrymore's directorial debut is a larky and ultimately disposable entertainment about a shrinking violet, Ellen Page's Bliss Cavendar, who becomes the roller derby teen star "Babe Ruthless." Page isn't in her precociously wised-up "Juno" mode here, which is all to the good. (That act was growing old.) Flying around the track in her battle gear, giving as good as she gets, Page is a pixie powerhouse. Barrymore, who also plays one of the rollers, relies too much on conventional ways of shooting and telling the story. The derby sequences are just OK, and the conflict between Bliss and her uncomprehending parents, played by Marcia Gay Harden and (a fine) Daniel Stern, is so predictable that you wish someone had rolled onto the set to whip it into shape. Grade: C+ (Rated PG-13 for sexual content including crude dialogue, language, and drug material.)

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