COULD DREW BARRYMORE be any more likeable? No. The answer is no. Submitted for your approval: Barrymore's directorial debut, the criminally enjoyable roller derby teen pic Whip It. Early on, it becomes apparent that Drew and her roller girls are having a blast, body checking and food fighting, which makes for two hours of infectious fun and feel-good eye candy.
A reluctant perennial beauty pageant contestant, Texan teen Bliss (Ellen Page) longs to find her "tribe." Enter a group of Austin roller girls and a bout in a warehouse; exit one excited 17-year-old who skedaddles home to her dusty Barbie roller skates. One adorable montage later, Bliss' fresh-meat tryout gets her on the Hurl Scouts, a team of loveable losers who lack the drive to win, much to the bemusement of their coach, Razor (played by Andrew Wilson, AKA "Luke and Owen's brother"). The Hurl Scouts' camaraderie is contagious, thanks in large part to a great cast who aren't afraid to take a fall: Barrymore's the aggro Smashley Simpson, Kristen Wiig's the maternal Maggie Mahem, stuntwoman Zoe Bell is the athletic-goddess Bloody Holly, and Juliette Lewis is bad-girl natural Iron Maven.
Forgoing Bad News Bears sports movie pitfalls, Whip It instead focuses on Bliss trying to escape her small town and her mother's expectations, all as she become the Hurl Scouts' secret weapon on the track as Babe Ruthless. There's some falling in love with a cute boy in a band, a whole bunch of ass bruises, rowdy girls-will-be-girls romping, and a genuinely moving relationship between Bliss and her mother (the excellent Marcia Gay Harden). Barrymore's debut is sweet without being sickly and rambunctious without affecting bravado. Basically, Whip It is like the awesomeness that is Drew Barrymore, but in movie form.