Juno’s Ellen Page returns as an ordinary girl turned roller derby star in “Whip It”, easily the best movie about roller derby released this year. The film combines great performances, a great script, and a lot of heart all around to make for a genuinely feel good movie about coming into your own element and asserting yourself.

Bliss Cavendar (Page) has it rough in the fictional Texas town of Bodeen. At 17, she is trapped in a dead end job, picked on at school because she is a little different, and is forced to enter beauty pageants in order to appease her mother. She feels her life is on a slow dissent to nowhere. However, upon going to a roller derby match in Austin (where several scenes were filmed), she immediately admires the women and the sport itself. After lying about her age to join the Hurl Scouts, she is immediately taken into another world; one that involves a dangerous sport, partying, and the joys and pains of being in love.

Some of the movie’s strongest points lie in the caliber of the performances and the way that the actors play off of each other. Page plays to her strengths, and gives a convincing performance as the awkward but sure headed Bliss. She is joined by director Drew Barrymore, who steals almost every scene she’s in, and many other able actors and actresses. The jokes are raunchy, but never over the top, and the script is filled with clever dialog that provides many laughs.

Perhaps the best thing about the film though is the amount of heart that is injected into the story. Being a member of a roller derby team is not emotionally easy for Bliss. There is a great amount of physical pain involved and the stigma associated with the sport, not to mention the fact that Bliss is still growing up. However, the Hurl Scouts, and eventually her initially disapproving parents, are there to help her discover herself and to take charge of her life. Despite everything bad that happens to Bliss, there is always that glimmer of hope amidst the despair. This gives the movie a more human element and makes it all the more endearing.

Even though it is action packed and undeniably hilarious, “Whip It” proves that a good story, solid acting, and a humanistic approach can make for a great movie.

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