Whip It is not a vanity piece for Drew Barrymore. Yes she directed and acted in it, but she's not in it all that much. Her character "Smashley Simpson" is there more for comedy relief. So if you're expecting a lot of Drew, check your expectations at the door.
This is a fantastic film about a misfit growing up in small-town Texas (Ellen Page) and finally finding something she enjoys and excels at. Her mother has been pushing her into beauty pageants since she was a kid but she never liked nor fit into that world. After disovering roller derby, she secretly sets out for Austin to try out, and to her own surprise, makes the team. But will her mother approve?
The members of that team, the Hurl Scouts, are anchored by Barrymore, Kristin Wiig as "Maggie Mayhem", and the always physical Zoe Bell as "Bloody Holly". Kristin Wiig in particular really shines in this movie. We always knew she was talented but here she gets to sink her teeth into the occassional dramatic scene as well. I was also pleased to see Daniel Stern in such a good role, and Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) as the best friend.
Barrymore managed to make Whip It look like an anachronism. It's obviously the present day due to the presence of the internet and whatnot, but everything from the style, to the music, on down to Ellen Page's Stryper T-shirt makes the film look like pretty much any time period from the mid-80's on down. I thought that was a cool touch. The soundtrack to Whip It is quite good.
The only flaw with a movie like this is that there are only two possible outcomes: The team wins, or the team loses. I thought the ending was pretty good despite those limitations.
Check out Whip It if this sounds interesting to you. There's comedy, there's drama, there's plenty of hard slammin' action. 4 stars.