Drew Barrymore’s Directorial Debut Should not Have Been Her Final

Drew Barrymore, Ellot Page, and Kristen Wiig in Whip It

There’s a nice canon of sports activities films that have not been expanded very a lot previously few years, or not less than not many heavy hitters within the style that comply with the tried and true components of rag-tag groups and coaching montages: The Mighty Geese, Rocky, Keep in mind The Titans. The newest contributions that appear to encapsulate that uplifting spirit that many affiliate with the style are tv exhibits resembling Ted Lasso and A League Of Their Personal. Whereas staff sports activities appear to suit long-form tv significantly better, and whereas maybe the angle of the sporting world has shifted within the public eye, many people return to those basic movies if in want of some motivation and even belonging.


The varied vary of athletic occasions there are on the planet permits for thus many narratives to be instructed, and whereas they might all be simply completely different flavors of the identical components, so are music biopics, and that does not cease their success. There are such a lot of contestants within the dialog for the best sports activities films of all time, however one which actually needs to be talked about far more is the 2009 curler derby movie, Whip It.

Drew Barrymore’s Directing Model Is Enjoyable and Bursting With Feminine Empowerment

Directed by Drew Barrymore and written by Shauna Cross, previously Maggie Mayhem of Los Angeles Curler Derby and the author of the unique novel, that is an underrated gem with a number of affect. The movie follows Bliss (Elliot Web page), a small-town Texan teenager whose mom (Marcia Homosexual Harden) is pushing her to be a pageant queen. Unable to slot in and dissatisfied together with her lot, she finds herself part of a rag-tag curler derby staff in Austin, going behind her mother and father’ backs to change into a star jammer for the Hurl Scouts. This movie has all the very best elements for each an excellent sports activities film and a coming-of-age basic, excessive on the listing of feminine sports activities movies with I, Tonya, and Bend It Like Beckham and that is undoubtedly attributed to Barrymore’s path.

Juliette Lewis and Elliot Page in Whip It
Picture By way of Fox Searchlight Photos

That is Barrymore’s directorial debut, and it is an actual disgrace that it is her solely director credit score. The easiest way to explain her directing fashion and mode of storytelling is unashamedly enjoyable. Only a low-stakes good time, you are feeling as should you’re associates with everybody on the display screen, and most significantly, it radiates with optimistic femininity. To be anticipated from one in every of Charlie’s Angels, this story is one in every of female empowerment and the invention of 1’s true potential. As a lot as sports activities films, together with this one, comply with a sure sample, Whip It does so much to keep away from the extra poisonous of clichés. Barrymore strived to “keep away from her story’s tidier prospects, to make issues ‘extra uncooked and open-ended.‘” when wanting on the script with Cross, and so they succeeded right here. Each in Bliss’ character journey and her relationships with household, associates, and rivals alike.

There’s at all times a fear when making a movie about girls in any type of competitors with one another that they’re going to all be poisonous and catty towards each other, like a 2000s actuality present, incapable of mutual respect. Barrymore breaks down all preconceptions about mother-daughter relationships and female-majority areas. Whereas there are rivalries and resentments in competitors, there aren’t any inclinations to play soiled, the romantic subplot doesn’t finish fortunately ever after, and the connection between Bliss and her mom is just not completely cut-and-dry. For this reason Barrymore was interested in Derby Woman, the unique novel, and fell in love with the game of curler derby. Little did she know that her affair with this sport and the making of this movie wouldn’t solely be beloved however extremely influential.

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Whip It And The Curler Derby Group

I’ve been not less than part of the curler derby group for approaching 5 years now. I’ve joined two sensational groups in my profession, refereeing, officiating, and doing shade commentary across the state and nation I reside in. I am writing this text in my staff shirt proper now! I can say with some degree of authority that Whip It is just not essentially the most correct movie about curler derby. It takes months and even years of observe to get on the observe competitively, and there are approach too many elbows being thrown for my referee mind to deal with. If you would like accuracy out of your curler derby content material, watch the 2020 French TV sequence Derby Woman. However with Whip It​​​​​​, it does not actually matter how correct the game itself is, as a result of the comradery is.

Whip It
Picture By way of Fox Searchlight Photos

The backstory for lots of fledgling skaters includes watching this film and getting impressed, and it is easy to see why. There is a punk-rock efficiency to the entire thing, although my very own expertise was actually much less flamboyant aesthetically, and extra importantly, the bonds shaped inside your staff could be stronger than something. This film has so many optimistic feminine relationships, even those that are not excellent are removed from something abusive, selecting as a substitute to go for nuance and perspective relatively than ethical absolutes.

Curler derby remains to be a really feminine house, but it surely’s additionally non-binary, and an LGBTQ+ optimistic house as nicely, with my solely actual grievance concerning the film being that it isn’t represented practically sufficient, with its 2009 launch. It is a house that champions variety and contagious enjoyable as everybody works to uplift one another, and that basis of help, even in competitors with each other, is essentially the most correct illustration in Whip It. Regardless of the technical inaccuracies, the private side is what attracted individuals. This film obtained a number of freshies (newbie skaters) to strive a brand new pastime, be part of a brand new staff, get energetic, and develop as individuals, and you must commend the film for that.

In her February 2010 interview with Oprah, Barrymore expressed intentions to direct one other movie, and I pray that this ambition did not expire. If the fitting story finds her, I will be entrance of the road for tickets as a result of Whip It confirmed an unbelievable quantity of promise for a primary effort. A film does not need to be suave to have depth in its story and characters, and simply because one thing is predictable does not instantly diminish its high quality. This film is infectious in its pure pleasure of girls and of curler derby, and if Barrymore might inject extra of that pleasure into completely different narratives, the movie business can be all the higher for it.