“Whip It” Into A Mainstream Teen Film

Whip it (2009) is Drew Barrymore’s film directorial debut.


The film Whip It  (dir. Drew Barrymore) revolves around the life of Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page), an unpopular, quirky, and timid teen from Bodeen, Texas. Her only friends work with her at the Oink Joint diner, the small town’s main attraction. Bliss lives in a household with high expectations set by her mother (Marcia Gay Harden): that she participate and thrive in the world of beauty pageants. While shopping in Austin, Bliss becomes interested in the the world of roller derby. She sneaks out and eventually gains the courage to try out, where she unexpectedly thrives and makes it onto the Hurl Scouts, one of Austin’s less-appealing teams. Bliss is given her derby name by her team, (who are gritty, snarky, and sarcastic 30-somethings) “Babe Ruthless.” Bliss tells her parents that she’s attending SAT prep classes, when instead she is really going to roller derby practice. Through many montage scenes, it becomes more apparent that Bliss is becoming more established in her team and the roller derby world, and she begins to forget about her commitments at home, including her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat), her mom, and pageants. She also meets and becomes involved with Oliver (Landon Pigg), who is in a rock band. Eventually, her parents find out about her lies, and she becomes stuck between her obligations to compete in a beauty pageant or to compete with the Hurl Scouts, who have made it to the finals. Unfortunately, both of these events occur on the same day. When her heart is broken by Oliver, Bliss chooses to make her mother happy by competing in the pageant. Bliss’ dad finally saves her from making the wrong choice by driving her team to surprise her at the pageant venue. Her mom is disappointed, but goes with her husband to watch Bliss play. After they see Bliss thriving in her element, the family accepts her passion and make amends.

Thesis: In the film Whip It, director Drew Barrymore incorporates well-established themes to make traditionally viewed forms of alternative culture, such as roller derby, more accessible to mainstream audiences in the form of a “coming of age” film.

Topic Sentence 1: Bliss, as the main character, is “othered” in her family and at school, until she finally finds a place to fit in with the Hurl Scouts.

Topic Sentence 2: Barrymore’s use of montage and cuts heightens the viewer experience by condensing time and highlighting important moments.

Topic Sentence 3: Comic relief and stereotypes within the Hurl Scouts and roller derby scenes increase viewer relatability and understanding.

 

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