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Moviegoers of America, we are very lucky this weekend. Not only is the new Coen brothers movie A Serious Man coming out, not only is Paranormal Activity expanding into actual cities, not only are the Toy Story movies back in theaters, but two of the comedies in wide release are pretty fantastic. Whether you're looking to see some funny zombie slaying in Zombieland or some kick-ass skating in Whip It, there are two PG-13 rated comedy options that you don't have to be embarrassed to admit you saw come Monday morning.
But I'm not here to talk to you about Zombieland, which has been a blogger favorite for weeks now and, if you're reading this site, you've probably already learned you must see. I want to implore you, beg you even, to see Whip It, a movie I already reviewed, but even in the limitless space of the Internet, I couldn't quite get out all my love for this movie.
Even though this is a movie about a very specific sport (roller derby) and with a pretty specific theme (girl power!), it's got just as much broad appeal and audience-pleasing moments as that zombie movie does. Below are 7 kinds of people who absolutely need to see Whip It, and even if you're not one of them, I promise you'll get something out of it too. Go see Zombieland, of course, but if there's one weekend to choose two feel-good movies in a row, it's this one.
Moms and daughters.
I mentioned briefly in my review that mother-daughter relationship between Marcia Gay Harden and Ellen Page is the highlight of the film, but it really deserves to be said again: anyone who was even a slightly rebellious teen, who fought with their moms over clothes and couldn't believe she was ever young herself, will relate instantly to their part of the story. It's all in the little details, like mom letting Page's character Bliss buy clompy combat boots despite her disapproval, or mom's exasperated, loving sighs when Bliss acts out in public. If you're older now, see it with your mom and finally let yourselves laugh about the old days.
Guys who like tough girls.
At a house party scene, two derby girls compare their bruises in particularly salacious areas, while two guys sit nearby, gazing in rapt joy. Every derby bout I've ever attended in New York has featured equal amounts men and women, and that's reflected in the audience of Whip It too, full of guys cheering on their girlfriends and friends, or maybe looking for someone new to introduce themselves too. And derby isn't just kneepads and bruises-- the derby uniforms tend to be sexy and short, but also functional enough to skate hard in them.
Tough girls who like guys.
If you were a girl who liked wearing black in high school, you know how it is. The moment you start showing any kind of aggression or anti-girly behavior, it's automatically assumed that you're gay. While there are some fantastic lesbians among the derby girls of Whip It-- including the hilarious Ari Graynor-- main character Bliss has eyes only for a shaggy rocker guy who's even more into her when she starts tearing it up on the track. And Drew Barrymore's character repeatedly wrestles with her fiance, who seems to love her all the more for it.
Girlfriends-- whole packs of 'em.
Come on ladies, you flocked to Sex and the City and Mamma Mia! last summer in droves-- come back for a real movie about female friendship and empowerment, in which no one is limited to being a Carrie/Miranda/Samantha/Charlotte, and instead of singing songs about your money woes and your man trouble, you have food fights. If Bliss's relationship with her friend Pash doesn't remind you of you and your bestie, I'll eat a Squealer.
Anyone who grew up in a small town.
Whip It doesn't linger too much on the doldrums of Bliss's hometown of Bodeen, Texas, but all the familiar figures are there-- the popular girl who was somehow your best friend as a kid, the entitled, generically handsome boys, the football-obsessed neighbors, the desolate diner populated almost entirely by old people. Even if your hometown wasn't nearly so crappy, you'll immediately identify with Bliss's intense desire to get the hell out.
Anyone who likes Zoe Bell, Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, etc. etc.
The performances by all the major players in this movie are great, of course, but there's an even bigger joy in the supporting characters, whether it's Kristen Wiig turning in a surprisingly touching performance, Daniel Stern resurfacing from wherever he's been lately to play a affably distant dad, or Jimmy Fallon being a better master-of-ceremonies than he is on his own late-night talk show, coming on to the ladies and being constantly rebuffed, and helpfully explaining derby rules while he's at it. Zoe Bell's in there too, as is Eve, as is the totally crazy and wonderful Juliette Lewis. In every frame there's someone great to watch.
Anyone who likes good movies.
Even I'm not crazy enough to argue that Whip it is a great movie, but it sure is a good one, a classic sports tale given enough of a twist to seem fresh again. It's pretty impossible not to be swept along by it, to feel the rush of skating and the warmth of sportsmanship and camaraderie. Also, did I mention it features totally hot girls who you can either want to be or want to be with?
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