Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Drew Barrymore|
|Produced by||Drew Barrymore|
|Written by||Shauna Cross|
|Story by||Shauna Cross|
|Based on||Derby Girl|
by Shauna Cross
|Music by||The Section Quartet|
|Cinematography||Robert D. Yeoman|
|Edited by||Dylan Tichenor|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$16.6 million|
Whip It is a 2009 American sports comedy-drama film directed by Drew Barrymore in her directorial debut and written by Shauna Cross, based on her novel Derby Girl. The film is co-produced by Barrymore and Barry Mendel. It stars Ellen Page as a teenager from the fictional town of Bodeen, Texas, who joins a roller derby team. The film also stars Barrymore, Alia Shawkat, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern, Carlo Alban, Landon Pigg, Jimmy Fallon, Kristen Wiig, Zoë Bell, Eve, Andrew Wilson, Juliette Lewis, and Ari Graynor.
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2009 and was theatrically released on October 2, 2009 in the United States by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It received generally positive reviews from critics but did not perform well financially, having made $16.6 million worldwide against its $15 million budget. It received two WIN Award nominations for Outstanding Actress, as well as Feature Film for Page and Barrymore, respectively. Whip It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 26, 2010 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is a misfit in the small town of Bodeen, Texas, with no sense of direction in her life. Her mother, Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden), a former beauty queen, pushes her to enter beauty pageants despite her lack of interest. During a shopping trip to Austin with her mother, Bliss encounters three roller derby team members and finds herself intrigued by the sport in which teams and players are given pun names that highlight the violent aspect of the sport. Intrigued, she and her friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) attend a roller derby bout under the pretense of going to a football game, where they see the "Holy Rollers" defeat the "Hurl Scouts", a perennially unsuccessful derby team.
Returning to Austin, Bliss lies about her age and tries out for the Hurl Scouts, discovering her natural skating abilities in the process. Joining the team, Bliss is given the derby name "Babe Ruthless." After realizing she needs to be merciless in roller derby, Bliss sees she needs to take charge in other aspects of her life. One involves Bliss's love interest, a lanky young rock guitarist and singer named Oliver (Landon Pigg) whom she meets via her exposure to roller derby. They enjoy a whirlwind romance before Oliver leaves for a tour, taking a T-shirt Bliss gave him to remember her by, in exchange for his jacket. She later finds a picture of him at a gig with another girl, who is wearing her T-shirt. She burns his jacket in retribution and subsequently breaks up with him following his return, although he vehemently denies that anything happened.
Another sub-plot examines Bliss's relationship with her parents, a loving but controlling mother and an amiable but clueless father (Daniel Stern) who seldom opposes his wife's parental decisions. After seeing her excelling and enjoying roller derby, Bliss's father convinces her mother to let Bliss out of a pageant (which is at the same time as the championship roller derby game) and convinces the Hurl Scouts to come get Bliss for the bout. Various other sub-plots include her relationship with Pash, and confrontations with a stuck up snob at school. Pash is fine with Bliss's new path, until she gets arrested with an open container of beer while she is waiting for Bliss, who has left to go find Oliver. Eventually, Pash gets together with their manager and forgives Bliss. The movie ends with the Hurl Scouts narrowly losing the championship match and everyone finally getting along; the team chants "We're number two!" which was the same thing they chanted when they lost their first match.
Screenwriter Shauna Cross adapted her 2007 young adult novel Derby Girl for the screen and pitched the script to different production companies while simultaneously pitching its source material to various publishers. Once Barrymore got involved, she and Cross worked for months on script revisions, with Barrymore pushing her to "avoid her story's tidier prospects, to make things 'more raw and open-ended.'" The film project was initially to be handled by Warner Independent Pictures, but Mandate Pictures took over after it was put into a turnaround.Production began summer 2008 in Michigan; principal photography began on July 26, taking place in and around Detroit, Saline, Ypsilanti, Michigan and Birch Run. Real roller derby players were selected from local Michigan teams such as the Detroit Derby Girls, and the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls. Several scenes were also shot in Austin, Texas. Some scenes were also shot in Hamtramck, Michigan at Hamtramck High School as well as Ferndale, Michigan at Ferndale High School. Whip It was produced by Barry Mendel and Drew Barrymore; a co-production between Mandate Pictures and Barrymore's Flower Films. The film was distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
On August 12, 2009, it was announced that Ellen Page would play the lead role in the film, while Alia Shawkat, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern and Carlo Alban were in early talks to join the cast. On August 14, 2009, Landon Pigg, Jimmy Fallon, Kristen Wiig, Zoë Bell, Eve, Drew Barrymore and Andrew Wilson were also in final talks to join the film, Juliette Lewis was added to the cast, playing Iron Maven (a play on Iron Maiden) and on August 18, 2009, Ari Graynor and Har Mar Superstar joined the cast of the film, playing Eva Destruction (a play on Eve of Destruction) and the Fight Attendants Coach. Whip it is the feature-film debut of Pigg.
The Section Quartet scored the music for the film and on its soundtrack. The soundtrack also contains "Knocked Up" performed by Kings Of Leon, "Pot Kettle Black" performed by Tilly and the Wall, "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" performed by Ramones, "What's the Altitude" performed by Cut Chemist and Hymnal, "Bang On" performed by The Breeders, "Dead Sound" performed by The Raveonettes, "Blue Turning Grey" performed by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Your Arms Around Me" performed by Jens Lekman, "Learnalilgivinanlovin" performed by Gotye, "Boys Wanna Be Her" performed by Peaches, "Jolene" performed by Dolly Parton, "Caught Up in You" performed by 38 Special, "Never My Love" performed by Har Mar Superstar and Adam Green, "Black Gloves" performed by Goose, "Crown of Age" performed by The Ettes, "High Times" performed by Landon Pigg and Turbo Fruits, "Unattainable" performed by Little Joy, "Doing it Right" performed by The Go! Team, "Breeze" performed by Apollo Sunshine, "Kids" performed by MGMT, "Fun Dream Love Dream" performed by Turbo Fruits, "Know How" performed by Young MC, "The Road to Austin" performed by The Section Quartet, "No Surprises" performed by Radiohead, "Domingo no Parque" performed by Gilberto Gil, "Lollipop" performed by Squeak E. Clean and Desert Eagles and other songs performed by other song performers.
The world premiere of the film was held at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The majority of the film's main cast attended the premiere. As part of the festivities, members of local league Toronto Roller Derby held an exhibition bout at Yonge Dundas Square in downtown Toronto. Toronto Roller Derby skaters, like those in other cities with major roller derby leagues, also helped promote the film in advance of the screening by wearing costumes from the film and skating around town and performing stunts while handing out flyers and giveaway items. Toronto Roller Derby credits their luck in being able to skate at the festival for helping expand their fanbase as well as their skater rosters.
Whip It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in January 26, 2010 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Critical reception for Whip It was generally positive; based on 182 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an overall approval rating from critics of 84%, with an average score of 7/10.Metacritic calculated an average score of 68, based on 31 reviews.A. O. Scott called the film "predictable", but said "You might, nonetheless, want to see this movie, even--or maybe especially--if you have seen Billy Elliot or Bend It Like Beckham. Familiarity is not always a bad thing, and if the script, by Shauna Cross, piles sports movie and coming-of-age touchstones into a veritable cairn of clichés, the cast shows enough agility and conviction to make them seem almost fresh."Roger Ebert said it's a "coming-together of two free spirits, Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page, and while it may not reflect the kind of female empowerment Gloria Steinem had in mind, it has guts, charm, and a black-and-blue sweetness." According to The Miami Herald, "Whip It is completely predictable from the first frame. It also is ridiculously, utterly entertaining. Drew Barrymore's smashing directorial debut harkens back to an era in which Hollywood studio pictures could still move and enthrall the audience while plying in hoary cliches."
Whip It was not financially successful. Initial studio estimates showed Whip It in a tie for #6 in its opening weekend, tying with the widely released Capitalism: A Love Story, and it wound up taking sixth place with $4,650,812. The film grossed $13,043,363 in North America. It grossed $3,589,672 in foreign movie sales, for a grand total of $16,633,035 worldwide. Production cost of the film was $15 million.
|2009||Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Perseverance Award||Drew Barrymore||Nominated|
|Stockholm Film Festival||Bronze Horse Award||Drew Barrymore||Nominated|
|Women Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Comedic Actress||Ellen Page||Nominated|
|Women's Image Network Awards||Outstanding Actress Feature Film||Ellen Page||Nominated|
|2010||Dorian Awards||Campy Film of the Year||Whip It!||Nominated|
|Soundtrack album by various artists|
|Released||September 29, 2009|
The film has a 58-song playlist, with a wide range of styles and genres. Nineteen tracks appear on the CD of the soundtrack, with additional tracks at various MP3 stores. According to Allmusic, "The disc is a blend of familiar old standbys (including a glittering remix of the Chordettes' "Lollipop") and indie acts (among them Barrymore's ex-boyfriend Fabrizio Moretti's band Little Joy), achieving the kind of safely edgy balance that embodies the Fox Searchlight aesthetic (that is, it's quirky enough to appeal to the cool kids, but never strays too far from the mainstream)."