Sunday, February 7, 2010

Movie: Whip It

"Whip It" is a light-hearted sports comedy movie directed by Drew Barrymore.  It is her first attempt at directing, and she does a fabulous job in it, surpassing my expectations for sure.

The movie stars Ellen Page as Bliss Cavendar, who is a rebellious high school teenager from a small town in Texas called Bodeen.  Her mom (brilliantly played by Marcia Gay Harden) works for the United States Post Office, but tries to get Bliss to attend the local beauty pageants, apparently the "proper" thing for the teenage girls to do in the town.

She sees a flyer to a roller derby game while shopping in Austin with her family and secretly attends the game with her best friend Pash.  She falls in love the sport almost immediately and tries out for one of the teams, and makes the team.  She conceals the fact that she is underage.  Also, she lies to her parents about secretly attending the team training sessions and games.  These will all backfire on her, which she will eventually have to confront face to face.

She finally finds what it is she lives for and where she belongs, befriends her teammates, thus finding people that really understand her.  At the same time, she needs to deal with her own family that seemingly will not accept her playing roller derby.

If you don't know what the rules of roller derby are, don't worry, as I also admit I had no idea before.  They explain everything in the film, so that even less-informed and ignorant audiences like me still have a good time, and did I!   Ellen Page is great at taking on these roles as girls who don't follow the usual cultural norm, as she does in Smart People and of course, Juno.   She plays the girl who doesn't quite know what she wants, but certainly knows that she doesn't want.  Assertive but at times helpless, Bliss is the girl that you can relate to and cheer for. 

The movie benefits from a great supporting cast playing quirky and funny characters:  Jimmy Fallon as the game announcer, Juliette Lewis as Iron Maven, an opponent, Kristen Wiig as Maggie Mayhem, Drew Barrymore herself as Smashley Simpson, just to name a few.  As you notice, these girls have very colorful aliases on the court, which is the source for another light comedic touch.  The movie is based on a book by Shauna Cross called Derby Girl.   Shauna Cross is an actual roller derby girl, her pseudonym being the real "Maggie Mayhem" in real life.  

The movie is highly enjoyable, very fun at times, but it still provides some very heart-warming touching scenes.  The ending and plot can be predictable, but even so, I still enjoyed watching it.  It certainly is not your usual sappy no-brainer sports movies, which I have had to endure watching some of those.   Would recommend without hesitation.

飆速青春(Whip It)是茱兒芭莉摩的導演處女作,而且表現令人相當稱讚。女主角Bliss Cavendar由鴻孕當頭的女主角艾倫佩姬(Ellen Page)所飾演。Page在這片子裡演的又是一位比較叛逆的高中少女,成長在德州的白人小鎮Bodeeen。小鎮裡的小女生們,多被要求要愛美,要端莊,也心甘情願地答應媽媽們參加那些選美比賽。Bliss不要這樣的生活,所以跟其他的女生格格不入,也常跟媽媽唱反調。但她到底要什麼呢?

有一天她跟媽媽和妹妹到大城市Austin去逛街的時候,無意看到roller derby(輪式溜冰)的海報,被深深吸引住了。她不僅去看了一場比賽,並瞞著家人去參加隊員選拔,順利地選上。從此以後,她過著雙面人的生活,一方面要跟隊友們謊報她的年齡,二來又要找理由跟家人說她每週有幾天晚上為什麼有事。


電影的氣氛整體而言是相當歡樂的。就算有比較認真的地方,也不是嚴肅到喘不過氣來。劇中裡的衝突,都會最後順利地化解,而結果是很溫馨的。這種以運動為主題的電影,有些電影情節不免有點公式化,不過就算如此,本人還是看得相當看心。比起一堆運動主題的大爛片比起來,這部拍得相當有水準!Drew Barrymore幹得好!

除了Ellen Page本身的演技好之外,別的配角也都選得很稱職。從Marcia Gay Harden演那個比較一板一眼,但仍非常愛女兒的媽媽,到Jimmy Fallon的播報員,到Kristen Wiig飾演的隊友兼大姐的角色,甚至連Drew Barrymore自己在裡面所演的瘋瘋顛顛的傻大姐,都表演很好。電影其實是根據一部小說改編的,作者本身是一位roller derby選手,所以對於這個圈子和生活相當熟悉。總言之,這部片,超越了我的預期,也證明,對於演員的小偏見,不要那麼快轉移到當導演的評價上。有時只不過換個位子,表現成果卻是完全不同~~~

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