Director and cast member Drew Barrymore attends a news conference for "Whip It" during the 34th Toronto International Film Festival on September 15, 2009.
With "Whip It," her remarkable debut as a director, Drew Barrymore proves that she is just as perky, quirky and talented behind the camera as in front of it.
Set in the exciting but less-familiar world of women's roller-derby racing, the film, which also stars the ever-delightful Ellen Page in her first role since "Juno," should perform exceptionally well for Fox Searchlight domestically and perhaps do even better overseas, given its exotic setting.
The fact that "Whip It" clicks on so many levels -- heartwarming family story, rough-and-tumble display of grrl power and a secondary but tender and convincing romance -- also can't hurt. The film, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, opens October 2.
Page is Bliss Cavendar, a pretty, intelligent girl from small-town Texas who longs for the freedom that beckons from the hip big city of Austin. Her mail-carrier mother (Marcia Gay Harden) entertains dreams of her carrying off huge trophies in local beauty pageants, and her Milquetoast father hides out watching football games to avoid his wife's wrath. One day, Bliss happens upon some fliers advertising an all-girl roller derby, and she's hooked. Knowing that her loving but strait-laced parents would never allow her to involve herself in such a dangerous, working-class and dead-end activity, she begins leading a double life that, after lots of complications, finally catches up with her. It probably won't be much of a spoiler if it's revealed that everything turns out well in the end.