Whip It (UK - DVD R2)
'Let's go apesh*t!' Marcus looks at one of his favorite movies of 2010 so far...
Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is growing up and isn’t exactly seeing much of a future in her small hometown of Bodeen, Texas. With her ever watchful mother (Marcia Gay Harden) not really knowing when to let her teenage daughter off the leash and a best friend (Alia Shawkat) that is on the verge of leaving the town for college, Bliss finds something new to fall in love with and it comes on eight wheels: roller derby.
Proving to be a bit of a speed demon, Bliss becomes Babe Ruthless and joins the underdog Austin team, the Hurl Scouts, and her small town life slowly becomes a fading memory when compared to the thrill of being in amongst the action with her roller team mates. But it isn’t long before Bliss realises there’s more to life than just being whipped around a roller derby.
So Gertie’s making movies now? Whip It is such a great start to Drew Barrymore’s step into directing, she’s brought along that rocker girl attitude that resonates off of her so well in the Charlie’s Angels movies and somehow manages to translate it into the spirit of her directorial debut. She hasn’t reinvented the wheel in regards to the coming of age formula, she’s not making any sort of commentary on the youth of today or anything as heavy handed as that, and she certainly isn’t aiming to make an impact in regards to yelling at people that she’s a director now, but she’s managed to make a solid movie in an overcrowded genre that's got its own personality and does ‘feel good’ with ease.
It helps that she has cool girl of the moment Ellen Page at the front and centre of the movie. In my eyes, Page can’t do any wrong, with great performances in all of her movies to date (even if some of the movies can be shaky around her) and she has an on screen presence that’s always enjoyable to be around. With Bliss, she one hundred percent sells the love of playing roller derby and the enjoyment of the new life it's offered her. She takes the character on a convincing journey and with a gang of misfit characters this good supporting her, this movie would have a hard time failing.
The entire band of Hurl Scouts as well as the other roller derby team members are just great fun to spend a movie with. Kristen Wiig plays a slightly reigned in spin on her usual roles which works wonders and Drew Barrymore herself is a brawler who’s just pure kick ass. Juliette Lewis is a pitch perfect rock and roll bad girl, Eve, Zoe Bell, Ari Graynor and Jimmy Falon have small but memorable moments but it’s team coach Razor played by Andrew Wilson who steals the show for me. This guy is hilarious, from his team plays, team speeches and beard through to his cut off jean shorts and sweat band, this character rocks and we need to see more of this Wilson brother in movies.
Up until very recently (like Toy Story 3 and Inception recently), Whip It was a clear winner in my films of the year so far. When I saw this movie a while back I just ate it up. I loved the characters, the feel good nature of it, the soundtrack, and it's just the sort of movie I could find myself gravitating towards when considering what to watch on a Friday night. Whip it leaves me grinning from ear to ear and even though it wasn't a poignant or thought provoking experience like Toy Story 3 or Inception proved to be, it's movies like Whip It that burrow their way into my movie driven heart and remind me how much I love these sorts of outings when they're this much fun.
Whip It offers up a pleasant and generally warm 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colours are bright, especially for the roller team's uniforms, and generally the lighting makes for a nice feel to a relatively low key affair.
Blacks are deep and grain is minimal and this DVD does a fine job at presenting the clean transfer (even though the style of it hints that the Blu-ray will be a big improvement—lets hope it's the case when the movie is released in August).
All in all Whip It looks pretty darn good for a standard definition release, with some scenes faring better than others (look out for the cafe food fight which is probably the best looking due to the lighting). Real detail is minimal and the image suffers slightly from softness in places but generally Whip It whips out the goods.
Whip It isn't exactly a movie that's going for masses of dynamic sound effects, honestly the best your gonna get is the oomph of a shoulder barge or a slam of someone hitting the track, so the focus really comes down to the dialogue and the soundtrack, both of which do a acceptable job.
The track handles dialogue well and it all sits central with a consistently clear presentation but I found the music choices in the movie to start with a punchy intro but then slip slightly below the level that I'd call effective. Gabe also mentioned this in his US review for the Blu-ray, so it looks like it's part of the mix as opposed to the track's problems. Same can be said for the crowd in the derby games, which are there in the ambience of the scene, but really you have to pay attention to them to really feel their presence.
Sadly there's no commentary here and that really would have been a blast with the whole of the Hurl Scouts. All we get are nine deleted scenes (15:28) and a handful of EPK Interviews (33:59) from Drew and her stars, which are good, but due to the style of their presentation a little bit of a slog in places.
In conclusion, the disc does a solid enough job without having anything to show off (which to be honest is more than I could have hoped for as a while ago when I never even thought the UK was going to get the movie at all).
Having seen Whip It a few times now, I honestly think I enjoy it more and more with every watch. It just feels like one of those movies that I'll have in my collection for years and still happily sit through it if I catch it on TV for the hundredth time. So get your skates on and check it out.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 16th August 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Interviews
Easter Egg: No
Director: Drew Barrymore
Cast: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden Kristen Wiig Drew Barrymore Juliette Lewis Jimmy Fallon, Andrew Wilson
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance and Sport
Length: 106 minutes
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