Sunday, October 4, 2009

Review: 'Whip It' [B-]

By Chase Kahn

Spiked with girl power spunk and hair-colored rebellion, Drew Barrymore's Whip It is just a punk variation on the teenage-liberation, coming-of-age dramedy. It's funny, likeable, good-spirited and too syrupy by a half.

I did enjoy just taking in the excellent ensemble cast (Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis) and the breezy, fishnet stocking and nose pierced brutish femininity of it all - in fact, for 90 minutes, I was cool and mostly down with it. Then the third act finale of over-extended bow-tying and maple syrup spillage reminiscent of Richard Linklater's School of Rock turned me off a bit and after that, I just couldn't fully embrace it the way I wanted to.

I really like Ellen Page and she's very good here - almost too perfect for the role. In fact, the biggest problem with Whip It is that its coming on the heels of the Oscar-nominated Juno. Page has played this kind of alternative, imprisoned and eccentric maturation adaptor before and this fact doesn't help distinguish the two works from one another, magnifying the telegraphed connect-the-dots script. There just isn't a lot of suspense in Whip It, which hits its narrative beats all too precisely - it's like a fixed roller derby match that's nevertheless fun to partake in.

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