If you didn’t know from knowing me personally or through my social networks, I have gotten so deep into Inception fandom that I decided to try out a free Netflix trial mostly to check out the other works of the three youngest stars in the film: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, and Tom Hardy. Nothing yet for Mr. Hardy in this installment of Movie Night In, but I do give you reviews of one of Page’s most recent hits and old-school JGL.
Page portrays a small-town Texan teen who finds her place in the world through roller derby, in 2009’s Whip It. Hailing from the obsolete town of Bodeen, unique and laid-back Bliss Cavendar serves as a waitress at a diner while trying to avoid the scrutiny of the popular kids at her high school. Even more, her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) primes her up for beauty pageants, much to Bliss’ unhappiness. When the quirky teen stumbles upon a roller derby competition in Austin, she is inspired to put on a pair of skates herself and joins the league. She sneaks off to the weekly practices and toughens up with each bout, develops friendships with and the support of the other girls, and even finds love with a hip musician (Played by Landon Pigg). But she’s living a double life–waitress, beauty queen in training, and high school outcast in Bodeen, tough chick on skates in Austin–and she must figure out how to come clean with her family and friends back home that she wants to stay that tough chick on skates. Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut in this sporty comedy-drama, as well as co-star in the film as fellow skater Smashley Simpson. Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Eve, Jimmy Fallon, and Daniel Stern round out a star-studded and talented cast.
Whip It‘s witty script and the cast’s enthralling performances are key components to the enjoyability of this movie. The roller derby scenes mixed with a cool and energetic soundtrack were a feast for the senses and may want to make viewers try out the sport for themselves. But Whip It deserves the most love for its uplifting coming-of-age theme. Viewers will see themselves as the main character and see their own life journeys play out as Bliss struggles to find herself and earn the acceptance of her parents and peers. Moreover, the portrayal of strong female lead characters, all engaged in the intense sport of roller derby and simply in life, is refreshing. But no matter who you are, like the tagline says, Whip It will inspire you to “be your own hero.”
OVERALL SCORE: 8.5/10
Released in 1999, 10 Things I Hate About You was one of the films at the turn of the 20th century that redefined the “teen movie” genre for a generation. It also launched the careers of Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles and was one of then-child star Gordon-Levitt’s final mainstream films before he headed to college, then found a niche in indie films (Then resurfaced to mainstream audiences in Inception). Based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, this saga takes place at a Seattle high school. When new kid Cameron (Gordon-Levitt) falls for the pretty and popular Bianca Stratford (Played by Larisa Oleynik), there’s already a problem when her father (Larry Miller) won’t allow her to date. The only way she is able to is if her feminist-minded and uptight older sister Kat (Stiles) dates. With everyone certain that no one will naturally ask her out, Cameron concocts a plan to get the rebellious Patrick Verona (Ledger) to woo Kat. However, here’s a kick: Another guy, Joey (Andrew Keegan), also uses Patrick to get Bianca to go out with him. Hilarity ensues, secrets are revealed, and a whole lot of love is in the air. David Krumholtz, Susan May Pratt, Gabrielle Union, Daryl Mitchell, and Allison Janney co-star.
Although the story itself could’ve been better developed, the characters and interactions are a joy to watch and there are many, many laugh-out-loud and heartwarming moments throughout the film. Ledger and Gordon-Levitt are two charming male leads, and Mitchell as the snarky English teacher and Janney as the principal/undercover erotica writer Ms. Perky deserved more screen time. See 10 Things for yourself if you haven’t yet and you’ll see why it’s considered to be one of those unforgettable high school movies–Heath Ledger belting out “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” on the school bleachers included.
OVERALL SCORE: 8.5/10