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Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Whip It

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    Whip It (Blu-ray)

    Directed by Drew Barrymore

    Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
    Year: 2009
    Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 111 minutes
    Rating: PG-13
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English ; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish
    Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
    Region: A
    MSRP: $ 39.99

    Release Date: January 26, 2010
    Review Date: January 29, 2010
     
     
    The Film
    2.5/5
     
    Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut in the comedy-drama Whip It demonstrates, if nothing else, that she has the goods to direct for the movies. She makes the most of many fun opportunities behind the camera, and being an actor herself, she’s able to guide her cast into good, affecting performances with a surprisingly large cast of characters. She makes the most of what she has to work with which, to be honest, is a second-rate script lacking in the basics which, had it been better developed and with much more attention to detail, could have made this a small gem.
      
    Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) feels trapped in small time Bodine, Texas, being forced to take part in local beauty pageants by her demanding mom Brooke (Marcia Gay Harden) and working at a local eaterie. Noticing tryouts in Austin for a local roller derby league, Bliss takes out her old Barbie roller skates and gives it a try. To her surprise and delight, she makes the team despite having to lie about being over twenty-one even though the team she makes is the lowest ranked squad in the league and filled with women who on the surface have very empty lives, but who in reality can teach her a thing or two about life and love. Along the way, she falls for a local musician (Landon Pigg), has a falling out with her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) who’s jealous of Bliss’ new “family,” and generally begins to enjoy her life for the first time, despite having to do all of it on the down low.
     
    Drew Barrymore’s direction revels in the challenges of the story from the several roller derby matches with their fast action, confusing rules, and multiple focuses during any one match to an underwater love scene and to two genuinely sweet sequences where Bliss talks things over with the two people she feels closest to: her father (Daniel Stern) and roller derby cohort "Maggie Mayhem" (Kristen Wiig). But Shauna Cross’s script adapted from her own novel Derby Girl is sorely lacking in development. Most of the characters are in desperate need of fleshing out instead coming across as miserably one dimensional. They all have interesting shells if only precious time could have been given to some character development. As a substitute, we have Juliette Lewis’ bitchy villainess who’s the star of the number one ranked squad, the whiny, sarcastic coach of the squad Razor (Andrew Wilson) who is my favorite character in the piece (apart from the leads) and almost completely ignored apart from the race sequences (a key deleted scene would have gone a long way toward fleshing out his character), and the happy-go-lucky brawler "Smashley Simpson" (Drew Barrymore) who adds some fun moments to the matches but must have had a more remarkable story to offer. The screenwriter also throws in a completely unnecessary food fight that’s thankfully not dwelt on.
     
    Ellen Page once again offers a very appealing heroine, a plucky, no-nonsense teen whose determination and feisty assurance is appealing and praise-worthy but still in need of some growing up. Marcia Gay Harden’s controlling mother is expertly handled despite its clichéd trappings while Daniel Stern does yeoman’s work as the father a bit at sea surrounded in his household by strong-willed women. Kristen Wiig is enormously effective as the substitute mother in Bliss’ roller derby world, her few minutes of screen time shared with Page in a car’s front seat among the movie’s strongest scenes. Jimmy Fallon as the hipster master of ceremonies at the skating events does his best to score some hilarious (seeming) ad-libs, but most of them fall flat.
     
     
    Video Quality
    3.5/5
     
    The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness, color, and contrast levels are usually consistently good and sometimes excellent. Skin tones are lifelike and most appealing. But there are some infrequent instances of moiré early on, and there are glimpses in certain places of edge enhancement. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
     
     
    Audio Quality
    3.5/5
     
    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix uses the rear channels primarily for the motley collection of rock music which adorns the soundtrack. The rears are undervalued in terms of immersing the viewer in the sounds of the roller derby contests with noticeable but slight surround ambience during the bouts. The front soundstage, however, is solid with the music and ambient sounds never drowning out the dialogue placed properly in the center channel.
     
     
    Special Features
    1.5/5
     
    There are nine deleted scenes including an alternate opening and some extended scenes. They may be viewed separately or in one 16 ¼-minute grouping. They’re presented in 1080p.
     
    “The Fox Movie Channel Presents Writer’s Draft” finds screenwriter/novelist Shauna Cross discussing the origins of her idea for the book and script in this too brief 3-minute vignette. It’s presented in 480i.
     
    There is a soundtrack album promo ad that runs for ½ minute in 480i.
     
    The second disc in the set is a digital copy of the film. Enclosed are instructions for installation on Mac and PC devices.
     
     
    In Conclusion
    2.5/5 (not an average)
     
    Despite an undercooked script, Whip It offers some reasonably entertaining comedy-drama for undemanding audiences. Drew Barrymore’s maiden effort at direction is encouraging, and the Blu-ray release offers above average video and audio quality despite a lack of riveting bonus material.
     
     
    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC
     
  2. Adam Gregorich

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    Thanks for the review Matt. I really like the cast. While it doesn't sound like it's Lawrence of Arabia, it definitely doesn't sound like Ishtar either, so I'm glad I picked this one up. Hoping to watch this weekend.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I enjoyed this film during its theatrical run so my review of the film is higher than this reviewer. Also, since film appreciation is so subjective, here is the review thread with some other opinions regarding this film. As far as the video, I'll be interested to see this film again on BRD, but I'm going to wait until the pricing of the BRD is closer to the $20 price tag.

    Thanks for the review.




    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    I think I might give this one a try as well. thanks Matt.
     
  5. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    While the script is predictable, the movie is still fun and the cast is excellent and bolster the whole thing.

    Looking back at the review thread, I stand by my statement that I wish that I had as much fun with most summer blockbusters as I did with this movie.
     

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