2009-10-23 / Entertainment/Lifestyles


Whip It' - Juno On Skates
By Robert Snyder

For actress Ellen Page, the big career question has to be: How long can she continue playing teenagers?

Though years have passed since she performed her Oscar-nominated break through role of "Juno," she was 24 then, but easily believable as a pregnant adolescent.

Now in "Whip It," she's playing 17- year-old Bliss Caven dar and hasn't aged a bit. Maybe, she should do a female version of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," without makeup.

Again, she is the smart-alecky, yet sensitive teen struggling to find herself and her place in the adult world, which is closing in.

Directed with fun, insight and precision by first-timer helmer Drew Barry - more, "Whip It" has Bliss rebelling against her stage mother Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden), the stage being beauty pageants. Escaping from high school and her waitress job, she travels from Bodeen to Austin, Texas, where she encounters a group of tattooed roller-derby queens and her future calling.

Lying about her age and skating ability, she signs up to be in the Hurl Scouts, then sneaks off to rock and roll in the grueling competitive sport on a raunch level equal to professional wrestling. Chameleon-like, Bliss transforms into Babe Ruthless, speed-skating star of the Scouts. Her colleagues flaunt such names as Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig), Bloody Holly (Zoe Bell), Smashley Simpson (Barrymore) and Rosa Sparks (rapper Eve). The rival team is headed by Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis), who initially has some tough words for Ruthless, but later initiates her into the roller-derby world with a classic food fight.

"Whip It" is a competent, but clichéridden coming-of-age story, which laun - ches Drew Barrymore on what could be a solid directing career.

She pulls off a few quality acting scenes, along with rough-and-tumble roller rink moments.

As for Ms. Page, I wonder what she'll be when she grows up?

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