Before we start, I should mention that I was a scorekeeper for the Rat City Rollergirls for a season. So I might possibly be biased in favor of a movie about roller derby. And I did enjoy it, although I admit that it was awfully formulaic. Between the trailer and my knowledge of How Sports Movies Work, there weren't that many surprises to be had. But who cares when I can watch Zoe Bell being a roller derby girl?
I was also predisposed to like it because it's set in Austin (well, mostly) and I'm going there in a week. So I was already pleased about going to see movies at the Alamo Drafthouse, and now I got to see a movie with the Drafthouse in it! So that was cool.
I don't really have much else to say about Whip It, since it was a straightforward fun movie. I don't feel like dissecting it or anything. Although I did feel that it was inappropriate for a seventeen-year-old character to make out with someone who thought she was 22. And if making out was all they did, I'd be very surprised. Anyway! Here are five other movies you might like if you liked Whip It!
5. The Fireball (1950)
Mickey Rooney is an orphan with a bad attitude who discovers a natural aptitude for speed skating. So, just like Bliss in Whip It, he immediately becomes great at roller derby. But this is back in 1950, when derby was a national sport, so he becomes a massive star and develops an even worse attitude. Then he gets polio (!), recovers, and makes an inspirational return to the track, all while being a huge egotistical jerk.
4. Double Dare (2004)
Zoe Bell plays Bloody Holly in Whip It, and she's a lot of fun to watch. You might recognize her from the Death Proof half of Grindhouse, but I recommend this 2004 documentary, which splits its time between two stuntwomen: Zoe Bell (who did Xena's stunts, which means all that flippy-flippy was her) and Jeannie Epper (a million roles in the Old Days, including doing Lynda Carter's stunts in "Wonder Woman"). This movie is why I spent so much of Whip It watching a character with very few lines.
3. Unholy Rollers (1972)
Roller Derby sort of comes and goes, you know? This is from the Seventies version of derby, and it's kind of like Flashdance. Except instead of being a steelworker, Claudia Jennings works in a cannery, and instead of becoming a Flashdancer, she becomes a roller derby skater. Then all the usual things happen, but it's entertaining anyway.
2. The Demon of the Derby (2001)
Ann Calvello was a tough old broad who skated in the Very Old Days of roller derby. She dyed her hair crazy colors and gleefully played the bad guy. She was awesome. This documentary is from when she was even older, but no less tough. It makes a great double feature with Lipstick and Dynamite, about the tough old broads from the old days of women's wrestling.
1. Kansas City Bomber (1972)
This is probably the best roller derby movie. It's got Raquel Welch! And some of the same background skaters as Unholy Rollers, so you can learn all about the standard Roller Derby Moves from back then. You know, like the Double Clothesline and the, um, Hop Up and Down on One Leg for Half a Lap!