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Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page: 'Whip It'

How Page fares in Barrymore's directorial debut about a team of "tough on the outside" roller derby queens

Drew Barrymore's "female-centric" roller derby dramedy Whip It "is funny without trying too hard to be wacky," said Christy Lemire in the Associated Press, and "sweet without being overly sentimental." Starring Juno's Ellen Page as a "misfit" who joins a team of "tough on the outside but decent to the core" roller derby queens known as the Hurl Scouts, Whip It (watch the trailer) has "an appealing low-budget, '70s-style kitsch" and refreshingly depicts women as "strong, smart, cool individuals."

Ellen Page makes the movie, said Steve Persall in the St. Petersburg, Fla., Times. She has an "unerring knack for expressing teen agitation without angst," and she's great as the "sassy hero not content to spin her wheels in a tiny Texas town." But Drew Barrymore's "directing debut isn't anything special"—she just "doesn't have her action directing chops yet," and Whip It "loses steam" when the Hurl Scouts are onscreen.

The direction is "generic and blocky" in this "clichéd underdog film," said Marshall Fine in The Huffington Post. The skaters' names "are the only witty element to the whole film: Bloody Holly, Eva Destruction, Iron Maven." But "after that, the writers apparently went on permanent hiatus." Whip It is nothing more than a "turgid, predictable and not particularly funny sports tale."

Also opening this week: A Serious Man, The Invention of Lying, Zombieland

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