Monday, October 12, 2009
Put down the lip gloss. Step away from the mirror.
I don't know why, but I wasn't expecting much from Whip It. What I got was a great funny sports movie with coming-of-age themes that didn't make me grit my teeth and cringe. The roller derby action made me cringe and grind my teeth. But that was in a fun "I can't watch" kind of way that I enjoyed. And it's set in Austin, Texas. You could almost call it a star vehicle for the city. No one appraises me of these things.
I'm a real soft touch for "be your own hero" sentiments so I should have realized I'd get sucked in directly. I was getting misty eyed moments into the film but once the real derby action started I got my head in the game. The fine soundtrack featuring gems from The Ettes and Jens Lekman helped with that. So did the breakneck camera work and accurate portrayals of both roller derby and Austin. All the people in the movie looked, or were cleverly made to look, like real Austinites who had been binging on Lone Star beer since middle school. I especially appreciated the way they got the derby girl look down for the likes of Drew Barrymore, Eve and Juliette Lewis: kinda busted but murderously glamorous.
It's too early to tell, but Whip It might meet my criteria for a favorite movie. I have to be able to watch the film over and over again at any time no matter how cranky or cynical I'm feeling. This might be one of those. It has corny/hilarious dialog, lots of thrills and eye snacks and a (subtly presented) moral I can't remind myself of often enough: It's totally okay to get hurt.