Whip It

Rated 4.0

You can complain that the roller-derby moment ended right when Drew Barrymore was greenlighted to make a movie about it with the star of Juno, or you can just strap in and have a good time. In Barrymore’s directorial debut, written by Derby Girl author Shauna Cross, Ellen Page plays a Texas teenager who forgoes the beauty-pageant prospects favored by her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) for the rougher self-actualization of the derby. Yes, it’s ingratiatingly perky sometimes, but also a reliable map of the bruises—both physical and emotional—that some young women accumulate. With help from environmentally authentic costumes, cinematography and production design, and the inviting camaraderie of a mixed-bag supporting cast, Barrymore’s goofball girl power gets her through the clunky moments and formulaic sports-movie redemption clichés. Harden is a model of restraint and Page, occasionally and appealingly channeling Freaks and Geeks-era Linda Cardellini, also holds her own.