By Sarah Sluis
Yesterday's advance screening of Whip It! included some unusual invitees: members of New York's roller derby team, who came clad in outfits of sweatbands and striped stockings. The audience was
What's surprising is that Whip It! uses a stock plot and situation to make a fast-paced, original-feeling movie. Here's the coming-of-age tale 101:
1. A girl in a small town dutifully, but grudgingly, follows her parents' idea of her life.
2. Until she's pulled into a new activity in which she discovers herself.
3. She must hide this new life from her parents, who would disapprove.
4. This leads to a crisis point where she can't lead both lives at once (and/or gets found out)
5. At which point she must reconcile her two worlds.
In Whip It!, this activity is roller derby (cue training montages). The movie does a great job initiating newbies into the ins and outs of the game, and by the end you'll be just as appreciative of the double-leg whip as I was. But how can a movie that follows so closely to a set genre seem so original and fresh? I've come up with a few answers.
The acting: Ellen Page does a superb job as Bliss Cavendar .a.k.a. Babe Ruthless. You're with her the whole time.
The soundtrack: Like all Fox Searchlight movies, the movie has a killer soundtrack, featuring catchy songs from indie bands. You'd want to listen to it at the gym or before going out with friends.
The feminism: The roller derby girls are sexy but tough. In one scene, they're showing off the bruises on their bottoms to each other, to the delight of some nearby boys. It's funny and revealing: the girls
The dialogue: The movie may use a stock plot, but the dialogue feels genuine.
The details: Good comedies get jokes from authentic, not gaggy, costuming and props. There's the pink furry phone in Legally Blonde and Jason Segel wearing Ugg boots in I Love You, Man. In Whip It!, it's the pig aprons the girls wear at the diner they work at. You really believe that they have to wear them, Ellen Page meets the boy she has a crush on while wearing this ridiculous, stuffed pig apron. They are laughably hideous, and just the kind of thing you'd be forced to wear in Bodeen, Texas.
Whip It! opens this Friday, and hopefully its originality will be rewarded at the box office.