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Ellen Page
Drew Barrymore
Kristen Wiig
Marcia Gay Harden
Juliette Lewis.
Drew Barrymore.
Shauna Cross.
Running Time
111 minutes

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Whip It
Roller vixens a go-go in Drew’s directorial debut

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Bliss (Page), a teenager who pleases her mother (Gay Harden) by competing in beauty pageants, takes up roller derbying under the name Babe Ruthless. Thanks to her skating skills, the Hurl Scouts — perennial last-placers — turn around and rise up the league. However, eventually her mother finds out about her new passion.

Whip It
Women’s roller derby was briefly a craze in the 1970s, and inspired a few gritty action movies with the likes of Raquel Welch (Kansas City Bomber) and Claudia Jennings (Unholy Rollers) as skating harpies. In recent years, there’s been a resurgence of the sport in Texas, and Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut — in which she takes a goofy role as skating ace Smashley Simpson — is the inevitable film spin-off, exploring the world of tough suburban chicks who get together to play what looks a lot like Rollerball in makeshift rinks, adopting witty monickers like Jabba The Slut and Bloody Holly as they skate and bodyslam their way around a tilted oval track.

Earlier roller derby movies took a fairly hypocritical tone: condemning the game for ultraviolence and objectification of women in knee-pads and fishnet tights, but showing a hell of a lot of bruised flesh and spilled blood while tut-tutting at the redneck crassness of it all. Barrymore takes a far more positive approach and depicts a sisterhood of the track — even the heroine’s arch-rival, Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis), is presented as an honourable, admirable character who gets a nice scene towards the end as she explains to the heroine why winning this stupid sport means so much to her — which is liberating for a girl who has been brought up as a living Barbie doll so her mother can keep competing in the beauty pageants she used to win. If there’s a downside, it’s that the well-staged, exciting, stunt-filled derby matches aren’t quite the astonishing action highlights they might be — but that’s more than compensated for by the movie’s big heart and affecting teenage drama.

Ellen Page gets the follow-up role to Juno that confirms her position as the junior leading lady with the most potential. Screenwriter Shauna Cross, adapting her own semi-autobiographical novel, doesn’t take the easy outs: Bliss’ mother may be domineering, but she’s a decent, strong person who has a real point about her little darling’s new career choice (Harden, as ever, is outstanding), and there are well-developed subplots about the heroine’s relationship with her easygoing dad (a welcome Daniel Stern), her long-time best friend (a bright Alia Shawkat), her team-mate Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig), and newfound musician love interest (Landon Pigg). As a sports movie and as a mixed-up teen flick, it keeps taking unexpected turns, and unlike so many in the former genre, remembers there’s more to sport dramas than just winning. And we defy you not to cheer when Babe Ruthless shows off her blocking skills on the school’s mean girl.

Barrymore, among the most consistently admirable women in showbiz, can proudly add a Guides badge for Meritorious Directing to her many other achievements. Excellent emo chick coming-of-age drama plus broads in fetish gear battering each other on roller skates — frankly, a film that offers something for everyone.

Reviewed by Kim Newman

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Whip It
Empire Star Rating

My fave chick flick

This is such a funny, stupid and touchingly sentimental film. I just love it ! Aside from Empire's afforementioned performances, Andrew Wilson as Hurl Scouts coach Razor is absolutely superb. He is a twit, a knob, a fool and a pudz....but he's great ! Ellen Page once again knocks the ball clean out of the park, and her character is engaging, loveable and determined. Drew Barrymore's character is once again a highlight of the film, and you can just see, as in Angels, they had an absolute hoot ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danielthompson99 at 15:58, 23 September 2012 | Report This Post

Be your own hero! Go Babe Ruthless!

Whip It is directed by Drew Barrymore and adapted for the screen by Shauna Cross from her own novel, Derby Girl. Barrymore also co-stars alongside Ellen Page, Alia Shawkat, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Stern and Landon Pigg. Bliss Cavendar (Page), is a bored teenage girl stuck in a rut in Bodeen, Texas. Her life consists of working at the “Oink Joint” restaurant and entering beauty contests to please her mother (Harden). Along with her friend Pash ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnChard at 22:38, 26 March 2011 | Report This Post

Whip It

Whip It is the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore and perhaps unsurprisingly it's a tale of teen angst, rebellion and an unruly outlet for these frustrations. Ellen Page plays Bliss Cavendar, a 17 year old whose idealistic mother has her competing in degrading beauty pageants much to her chagrin when one night Bliss and her best friend attend a local roller derby where Bliss's eyes are opened by the free will and wild abandon of this sometimes brutal sport. It's the kind of hip-smart role... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Biggus at 15:13, 26 September 2010 | Report This Post

It's ok

Bought it for my wife last night and watched it together. We're pretty much the target audience. We liked Juno, we haven't completely tired of Michael Cera yet, we're looking forward to Scott Pilgrim and we enjoy a bit of indie movies and music every now and then. Whip It was..... ok. Not quite sure how it can justify the 4 star review of 5 star talk ups it's been getting here. It's fine. The cast is solid and the story moves along nicely. Has a nice message and is, for the most part, well sh... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jmebaby25 at 14:06, 20 August 2010 | Report This Post

Whip It

Although theres no real surprises to be had it was entertaining from the start was fresh and funny and it comes with a shitload of girl power. I think it it'll be this years Adventureland. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Soprano168 at 22:47, 18 May 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Whip It

it is watchable, but thats it. zoe bell is .... er ... kinda tasty though! 4/10 ... More

Posted by empire No. 1 at 21:23, 19 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Whip It

Director: Drew Barrymore Screenwriter: Shauna Cross Starring: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Drew Barrymore, Juliette Lewis, Jimmy Fallon, Alia Shawkat Synopsis In Bodeen, Texas, Bliss Cavendar (Page) finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin. Review When it comes to actors taking on their first project as a director, there can be ups and downs. On the positive side, someone like Steve Buscemi has... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by R W at 13:35, 19 April 2010 | Report This Post


I didn't have many expectations prior to seeing this, so perhaps that's why I was so impressed. I thought Drew Barrymore did a really good job, I look forward to her next effort. Although it was female-centric, Whip it also offered positive depictions of most of the male characters too, something that female-dominated films sometimes fail to do. oughts here... ... More

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Posted by iheartthetalkies at 17:19, 18 April 2010 | Report This Post


Hyped up to be something great and different. For me, it ended up a dissapointment. 4 stars? No way! More like 2... 4/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 14:06, 18 April 2010 | Report This Post


Utterly predictable throughout (almost) with plot details you see coming a mile off, but hey it's a sports movie so we all know what to expect. Whilst the film was entertaining enough I am amazed by all of the love it is getting. The main problem for me was in the sport itself. Whereas sports films develop the action that you see, there was nothing different in any of the skating scenes, visually they were all the same as there is little you can do with a sport like that. Basically the actio... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 10:23, 15 April 2010 | Report This Post

I would have to say: Bravo for Barrymore, she did an outstanding work. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 04:40, 15 April 2010 | Report This Post


Saw the movie today and absolutely loved it, best film I have seen in 2010 so far. Drew Barrymore makes me laugh everytime she is on-screen, she has an amazing personality Fantastic cast- juliette lewis and ellen page were awesome too Hilarious too!!! ... More

Posted by edge88 at 23:52, 14 April 2010 | Report This Post

Really, really great. The best film I've seen so far of 2010. 10/11 ... More

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Posted by crazymoviesdude at 08:47, 11 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Whip It

Loved it! Who'd have thought roller skating could be so much fun. Was good to see Marv from Home Alone! Very funny and a great cast. I recommend it! However, My oldest now wants to roller skate! py34.gif]py34.gif] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by juanvasquez at 21:41, 10 April 2010 | Report This Post

Whip It

Up beat fun and cool feel good film with good performances from Ellen Page and Juliet Lewis. An Excellent directorial from Drew Barrymore she's obviously learnt a lot in the business. Great Film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 15:08, 10 April 2010 | Report This Post

Whip It

Essentially a sports movie, , Whip It is just a lot of fun. Sure, the overbearing parent pushing their child in the wrong direction because of their own shortcomings thing has been done countless times before; but here, with Barrymore's great first time direction and great acting by Ellen Page it just feels more real, and crucially, more entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 19:08, 08 April 2010 | Report This Post

Whip It

Essentially a sports movie, , Whip It is just a lot of fun. Sure, the overbearing parent pushing their child in the wrong direction because of their own shortcomings thing has been done countless times before; but here, with Barrymore's great first time direction and great acting by Ellen Page it just feels more real, and crucially, more entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 19:08, 08 April 2010 | Report This Post

Saw this film ageeees ago last year and

thought it was better then I thought it was going to be. Definitely worth a watch ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by droo_face at 03:20, 08 April 2010 | Report This Post

Three stars....

OK so I am not the on holiday teen audience this film is aimed at but I think four stars is a little OTT for this. Another underdog American sports movie, been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Normally I would award such films two stars, what makes this a little better is Ellen Page herself ( innocent teen type that can be LEGALLY lusted after given her twenties and short for her age stature) and a gritty girl-power sort of feel to this. The usual fun living for the moment against Texan republ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by filmsunlimited at 19:25, 07 April 2010 | Report This Post

This has been on DVD in the U.S. for a while,

and I loved this film. I enjoyed the complexities of the characters,(even the villains) . Drew Barrymore really made a great entertaining film that I watched with my two daughters. a really great film go see it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by screenwriter74 at 20:47, 06 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Really a cool movie

What a fantastic little film. Really funny and warm, brilliant soundtrack and some ace performances. Is Marcia Gay Harden just fantastic in everything these days? Whip It? Watch it. Ho ho ho. ... More

Posted by TrendMeUp at 19:39, 06 April 2010 | Report This Post

Really a cool movie

I really recommend it. Hasn't got enough attention and don't get me started on the box-office It also reminds u of why the world fell in love with Ellen Page Great to see Daniel Stern back again...I love the stern ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by monkeyhumour at 03:18, 05 April 2010 | Report This Post

RE: Roller Derbys Rock!

I caught this early too.  Enjoyed it a lot more than i thought i would.  Good to see Zoe Bell pop up too. ... More

Posted by kata at 00:18, 31 March 2010 | Report This Post

Roller Derbys Rock!

I saw this movie at a preview screening and i think it's amazing. It's such a nice kooky twist on the usual emancipation feel good movies with a great directorial debut for Drew Barrymore. A good script, a good cast, good funny scenes = a really good movie. I will definately start to roller skate again because this film reminds you of just how fun it really is. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MariannaBelle at 12:32, 30 March 2010 | Report This Post


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