Whip it good!

16 10 2009

Oh hell yeah I had to use that lyric for this post.

It is, after all, a review of Drew Barrymore’s Whip It—the second (new) movie I’ve seen since moving to New York. (The first was Children of Men: very good, better than the book. And Clive Owen, oh my. . . .)

Okay, back to chicks on skates. It’s a fine movie—not great, but thoroughly entertaining. Bliss Cavender lives in Bodeen Texas with her football-lovin’ dad and pageant-pushing mom (and suck-up little sister); her only friend(s) are those she works with, Pash and Birdman.

Then (cue the lights and music), she sees a flyer for a roller-derby match in Austin, is urged to try out by a derby-ite (derbyan? derbish?), skates quick-fast, makes the team. . . and away we go.

It’s a bit sketchy, insofar as there are thin bits where there could be full moments, and miss Bliss rather too easily transforms into Babe Ruthless, but what the hell, it’s already two hours long, and it’s not as if the backstories are truly necessary.

Ellen Page is endearing rather than annoying, Kristin Wiig is fab, as is the fabulous (natch) Marcia Gay Harden, and Daniel Stern looks like he’s having a good time. Oh, and Jimmy Fallon does a fine impression of a skanky announcer—so much so that I, uh, don’t think he really had to act all that hard.

And Juliette Lewis is there, too. It’s not as if I’m a big Juliette Lewis fan, but I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for a woman who’s done her own thing for a long time and gotten shit for it—and who apparently doesn’t care.  And her character works.

Oh, there’s a boy, too. Man, I guess; boyish man. In too many ways. Bliss knows just what to do with him.

So a good time was had by all (well, the three of us attending the early matinee), and I will certainly enjoy watching this again when it hits Netflix. (Which I should sign up for.)

Still, I felt a bit melancholy when I left. No! Wait! I didn’t mean that! No sad faces! So, okay, maybe restless is the better term. Yes. Restless.

Why? Well, there’s a scene in the middle where all the skaters and some of the fans hit a party, and it’s all anarchic joy. The band is playin’, the roof is swayin’, and nobody is worrying about anything. Oh, and Bliss gets tossed in the hot tub. (Of course there’s a hot tub.)

And I thought, hey, I remember that. Not the hot tub and skates, but the fuck-it glee of a great unwind, of being a part of something you never thought could exist, and the. . . dammit! bliss of freedom and the sense that there’s more out than you could ever breathe in. That you could toss yourself off the cliff and land. . . in the hot tub.

I’m so dull now. So, so dull. I like control and observation and not making an ass of myself, keeping an eye on the door and my wallet and how much I’ve had to drink. Do you know how many years it’s been since I’ve danced on a table- or bar top? Bounced with friends and strangers to the jangle-pop of a somebody’s brother’s garage band? Jumped in instead of standing back?

This isn’t a call back to my teenage or college years—well, a little bit to my college years. But even if I don’t want to be sixteen or even twenty again, I do want some of that anarchic joy, the sweaty-dancing-laughing-singing-to-the-stars joy.

I’m only halfway through life, so why am I acting as if I’m already nearing the end?

Something more, remember?


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