It’s Not A Sentimental Movie Sprint I

These are movies that have a target demographic of your heart!

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The planet Earth has a long history and a bunch of super things popped up along the way. Things like democracy, Slurpees, Pride and Prejudice, Slamball, to name a few. Lots of good things. Lots of great things!

However, there is no need for many of these great things because Whip It came out and it is the best thing.

On the surface, Whip It is a coming-of-age story.  Looking deeper, it is the pinnacle of the film as a medium. Oh, I’m sorry, I’m blushing, I just loved Whip It so much!

(Full Disclosure: I have been excited about this movie for a long time. It started when I saw the trailer this summer with my good friend Chris Wodicka [2009: The year the Whip It trailer broke {My Heart}]. When I went to see Zombieland with another good friend, Sean Smith, I mentioned I would be contacting the movie theater manager to see if I could barter for the Whip It cardboard display, without even seeing the movie.)

I know what you are saying, Paraphrasing Ghosts of Chris Farley, “I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull’s ass, but I’d rather take a butcher’s word for it.” First, I respond, that is not a paraphrase. It is the actual quote. Second, I add, this is 2009 and I have lost my butchering license! That is to say, here is why I loved Whip It so.

The story is pretty simple but it is bolstered by a stellar cast and a strong effort in directing by Drew Barrymore (Sidebar: A round of applause for Ms. Barrymore. She has come so far from rehab and Tom Green!). It’s odd talking about what “good” direction in movies is when I don’t know what marks good direction in movies. I mean, I know a few things. From Martin Scorsese’s films I have learned that the first question a director asks is “Can I fit ‘Gimme Shelter’ in this scene?” (Trick question: You can always fit in “Gimme Shelter”). From my amateur perspective, Whip It looks fine and moves well, so hurray for Drew!

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Passing the director’s torch up there!

Every actor does well in their role (even Jimmy Fallon!) but there were some standouts.

Ellen Page was great as Bliss Cavender. Maybe Ellen Page is my kryptonite because she gets me every time. In X3, she made me believe she could pass through walls! In Juno, she made me believe kids talk like that these days! In Hard Candy, she made me believe she castrates sex offenders! I totally believe she is roller skating and dying her hair and making out with a mulleted boy in a swimming pool when we all know that with movie technology she probably did none of those things.  The roller skating was blue screen, the hair dye was green screen, and the love interest with a mullet was a robot (Just k’ing, he wasn’t a robot).

Daniel Stern of the Home Alone series and Bushwhacked takes on the role of Bliss’s father. The part seems simple enough but it could easily have been played in a way that disrupts not only this character but also the dynamic between Bliss and her mother. Daniel Stern hasn’t been this great since Rookie of the Year (I think lots of people peaked in Rookie of the Year like Gary Busey, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and especially the Chicago Cubs organization).  Mr. Cavender reminded me a bunch of John Goodman’s character from Coyote Ugly in their fatherly duties. Looking back on it, I wonder if there really were many similarities aside from their recognition of the futility of fighting the moonlight.

Alia Shawkat (real life friend of Ellen Page) plays Pash (movie life best friend of Ellen Page’s character Bliss Cavender) which is nice to see if you are a fan of either Arrested Development or the Martin Lawrence basketball comedy Rebound, which is this generation’s Hoosiers. Anyway, Pash is a nice complement to Bliss that makes the conflict between OLD BLISS and NEW BLISS more broad later in the film.

The oldest Wilson brother is in the film. He drives a dune buggy and does upside down sit-ups and could totally kick his brothers’ (Owen, Woodrow, Luke) asses.

Landon Pigg plays Bliss’s love interest Oliver, which is a poor choice for his name because seriously guys have you seen the first season of The Orange County? Point against him. But then, I audibly gasped when he had an American Analog Set song playing in his car. Point for him. I don’t want to go on with spoilers, but there are more points for both sides throughout the film.  There is also a scene that makes me feel confused about both Jens Lekman and the concept of coital breathing in a high school swimming pool (Especially now in this post-Glee world where we know what can happen with that sort of water-related accident).

Oliver was not an extraordinary character by any means but the concept of his character was the first piece of information Barrymore released concerning the film. There was a news story a while back about this film that didn’t include any details about plot or context but basically said “Drew Barrymore is looking for an indie band to play an indie band in her movie set in Austin.” There was a time in my life where I wanted to start a band just to audition for that but not really. (Totally really. I even wrote some acoustic demos and recorded them on an old answering machine.  They sounded like early Kraftwerk meets Spoon meets John Siegel on an answering machine playing guitar. Ms. Barrymore would have loved it.)

The future, the future! Some say the world will end in 2012. Others say that robots/computers will take over us all by 2039.  Those are inconsequential bits of history. What the Mayans/ Raymond Kurzweil should have predicted is the point where Whip It becomes available on Blu-Ray/DVD/Cable/Mind Implants so that people can have the joy of watching it over and over again.

I’m sorry but I have lots of strong feelings about this film! You should see and hopefully you’ll love it too!

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One thought on “It’s Not A Sentimental Movie Sprint I

  1. christopher says:

    john siegel, you’re the man – i thoroughly enjoyed reading that (except for the needless cubs-bashing).

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