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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Drew Barrymore
Cast:
Ellen Page, Drew Barrymore, Marcia Gay Harden, Juliette Lewis, Daniel Stern, Jimmy Fallon, Landon Pigg
Writing Credits:
Shauna Cross (and novel)

Tagline:
Be Your Own Hero.

Synopsis:
Hang onto your helmet and get ready to break away from the pack! Ellen Page scores huge laughs as Bliss Cavendar, a small-town teenager with a big dream: to find her own path in the world. Tired of following in her family’s footsteps of compliance and conformity, Bliss discovers a way to put her life on the fast track ... literally. She lands a spot on a rough-and-tumble roller derby team and becomes “Babe Ruthless” — the hottest thing on eight wheels! Co-starring Drew Barrymore (in her feature film directorial debut), Marcia Gay Harden, Juliette Lewis, Daniel Stern and Jimmy Fallon, Whip It is a triumphant, free-spirited comedy loaded with high-speed action and nonstop fun!

Box Office:
Budget
$10 million.
Opening Weekend
$4.650 million on 1721 screens.
Domestic Gross
$13.034 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 2/2/2010

Bonus:
• “Fox Movie Channel Presents Writer’s Draft: Shauna Cross of Whip It” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Digital Copy
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Whip It [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 9, 2010)

Pretty much every actor wants to direct, and Drew Barrymore got her shot with 2009’s Whip It. A proverbial square peg stuck into a round hole, 17-year-old Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) lives in small-town Texas. Her mom Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden) forces her into beauty pageants, but quirky Bliss doesn’t fit into that world.

When they visit the diner at which she works, Bliss meets some roller derby ladies and decides to try out for their team. After some rough spots, her speed earns her a spot with perennial losers the Hurl Scouts. Along the way, she starts to date cute musician Oliver (Landon Pigg), helps elevate the Scouts and makes enemies with competitor “Iron Maven” (Juliette Lewis).

I’ve always viewed Barrymore as one of Hollywood’s success stories because she overcame the pitfalls of child stardom. Drew went through a seriously screwed-up youth to emerge as a seemingly sane, nice person. For all I know, Barrymore could be evil incarnate, but I get the sense that she’s pretty down to earth.

Heck, the simple fact that she’s not on a milk carton is good enough; it’s even more impressive that she’s a true star who’s maintained a good career for many years. Most folks who start out like Barrymore end up in the “where are they now?” file, not as borderline “A”-level celebs who get to direct their own flicks.

All of that makes me more depressed to have to report that Whip It is such a dud. Obviously a maintain a non-objective affection for Barrymore, and I was excited to see her transition behind the camera. The subject matter of Whip It sure sounded promising as well; I figured I’d get a fun romp with some “coming of age” touches on the side.

Unfortunately, Whip It instead provides a dull experience. It fails to embrace the subject matter’s positives and turns into a turgid take on… I’m not really sure what. I guess it wants to be a character drama in that “coming of age” vein, as it focuses mostly on Bliss’ life and connected events.

This means lots of Bliss ‘n’ Oliver montages as well as mopey drama when she hits her inevitable snags. I don’t take issue with the film’s attempts at depth; I don’t think that Whip It had to be a light romp to succeed.

However, I think it should’ve gone down that path, largely because the drama just doesn’t work. Sure, we care about the characters reasonably well, but the film proceeds in such a plodding way that the story fails to involve us. The tale throws out a fair amount of angst and fails to leaven it in a satisfying manner.

Package all of that in a roller derby movie and you have problems. Again, I won’t fault Barrymore for delivering something different than what the ads promised. Heck, Inglourious Basterds subverted expectations and I loved it for that.

Unfortunately, Whip It is just so dull and lifeless that it loses us early. As an actor, Barrymore is warm, delightful and endearing. As a director, she shows no flair. Even when the movie should spark and sizzle, it lays flat.

This seems especially true during the roller derby sequences. These should jump off the screen, especially since we want to feel the same intoxication as Bliss. That never happens; the scenes lack the dynamic appeal they need to soar, so the parts of the flick that should invigorate just leave us yawning.

The film’s length does it no favors. I guess it fills 111 minutes because it aspires to Serious Drama territory, but that running time makes it drag. Barrymore’s problems with pacing and tempo don’t help, but those issues would’ve been minimized with judicious editing.

Barrymore opens her Rolodex and pulls in a lot of favors for the cast, as Whip It boasts a much more high-profile cast than one would expect from a small-budget flick like this. In addition to Page, Harden, and Lewis, we find Jimmy Fallon, Kristen Wiig, Daniel Stern and Barrymore herself. (I guess she couldn’t land Owen or Luke Wilson; instead, we get obscure sound-alike brother Andrew as the Scouts’ coach.) The cast does add a touch of class to the film, and it gives it a bit more substance than otherwise might boast. In particular, Harden ensures that Bliss’ mom isn’t just the cardboard “stage mother” she could’ve been.

Page provides a perfectly acceptable turn as the lead. I’m glad to see her veer away from the snarky hipster of Juno; Page easily could’ve just played that same role over and over, so I’m happy she creates a unique character.

The combination of high-caliber cast and fun subject matter conspire to make Whip It a definite disappointment. Too long, too slow, and too devoid of fun, the flick rarely manages to entertain or engage.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Whip It appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though not flawless, the transfer usually looked great.

Really, my only minor complaints related to sharpness. While the vast majority of the movie offered excellent delineation, a few oddly blurry shots emerged along the way. These were infrequent enough that they didn’t cause real problems, but they did create small distractions. I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement failed to appear. In addition, the transfer lacked source flaws.

With its roller derby setting, the flick boasted a dynamic palette. The colors came across as bright and bold; they were consistently lively and satisfying. Blacks appeared deep and tight, while shadows demonstrated good clarity and smoothness. Only the sporadic examples of softness kept this one from “A”-level consideration.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Whip It offered a pretty good experience, though not anything outstanding. Unsurprisingly, the soundfield best came to life during the roller derby sequences. These tended to favor the front speakers, but they opened things up well and formed a good impression of the action; the skaters moved around well and put us in the action.

Music was the track’s primary force, and that remained true even during the roller derby scenes. The songs spread across all five speakers in a positive manner that added punch to those sequences. Otherwise, surround usage remained unexceptional; the back channels gave us minor information.

Across the board, audio quality worked well. Speech appeared natural and concise, without edginess or other problems. Effects came across as accurate and clear as well. Music remained the best aspect of the track, as the songs boasted good punch and range. While never outstanding, I thought the mix was good enough for a “B”.

Expect a skimpy set of supplements. Fox Movie Channel Presents Writer’s Draft: Shauna Cross of Whip It. The awkwardly-titled featurette runs three minutes, four seconds as screenwriter Cross discusses the story’s origins and development as well as a couple of movie-related thoughts. We get some minor insights here but not much; it’s too bad Cross couldn’t do a commentary to tell us more about the project.

Nine Deleted Scenes fill a total of 16 minutes, 14 seconds. Bliss’ friend Pash is the beneficiary here, as she gets a fair amount more screen time. We also find extensions to a number of scenes as well. The most significant new material shows how coach Razor quits the team – and Bliss brings him back. The latter actually has what would’ve been one of the flick’s few laughs; since the final cut is already too long, I’m not sure it should’ve been in there, but it’s one of the more interesting tidbits.

Disc Two offers a Digital Copy of the movie. With this, you can view it on a computer or portable device. Yay!

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Amelia, Fame (2009), and (500) Days of Summer. The platter also provides a soundtrack spot for Whip It but not the film’s actual trailer.

If Drew Barrymore gets a second shot at the director’s chair, I hope that she’ll make something more interesting than Whip It. The movie has potential that it simply fails to mine. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture and solid audio but lacks significant extras. Chalk up Whip It as a disappointment.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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