This movie blows my mind.
Roller Derby is by far my favourite sport.
Beautifully Directed by a woman (Smashley Simpson).
Featuring my favourite stunt extraordinaire in Bloody Holly.
One of the bestest comedic actresses in Maggie Mayhem.
The completely unhateable, even when hateable, rock goddess that is Iron Maven.
And starring an irreplaceable starlet in Babe Ruthless.
Biased? You bet your stinky elbow pads I am.
This All-Star fusion doesn’t just throw in the names for the sake of covering some inadequacies with the rest of the movie.
There’s a true heart around the blood and guts of the banked track portrayed in this movie. This movie isn’t just women kicking some ass and taking some kickass names.
My heart would sing, float, break, and beat like a mother effer for it’s entire duration. I simultaneously and unashamedly cry with joy, love and heartache for every single second of Babe Ruthless’s journey.
Then of course there’s the kicking some ass and the taking of kickass names. It’s a clash of emotions that works so well because the real life stars of the flat track sacrifice many things in life to pursue this greatest of loves.
And these often untold sacrifices are placed front and centre of this movie. As they should be if this sport is to be represented fully.
Directed by Smashley Simpson from a novel by Shauna Cross that I now simply have to read, this A-list darling has featured in, and created, maybe the most personal thing she’ll ever do.
An 8 wheel personal announcement to all aspiring women that you are never, and will never be second best. You can reach that seemingly unobtainable gold. The glass ceiling only exists as a false projection from another mind to your own.
The story tells this message enough. But to look at the woman behind (and in front of) the camera’s career, Smashley Simpson is a lifelong proof of this theory.
There was never even the slightest doubt about the talent of Smashley before Whip It. This tale just cements her legacy for life.
What is most wonderful about Smashley Simpson’s part in front of the camera is that it never takes the spotlight from Babe Ruthless’s tale.
Not that she is mere background fodder. The short fused, aggressive member of the Hurl Scouts is mindblowing in her role. You don’t know what she’s going to do next. You just know it’s not going to be elegant.
The fact that this lovingly memorable character is very much a part of the Hurl Scout family whilst never taking the spotlight is a testament to the sheer class of Smashley Simpson. What a lady.
Nobody needs to tell anyone about the ridiculous talent of Babe Ruthless. She proved with her alter ego Ellen Page that she could carry a movie with Juno. And considering the phenomenally strong lady supporting cast in Whip It, she only carries on that rightful perception.
There isn’t an actress in the support that I don’t adore for one reason for another. So the fact that Babe Ruthless’s tale hit me so damn hard is an absolute credit to her.
Her life kind of mirrors the struggle many real life Derby girls go through. A sport that pays very little, if at all. These amazing women sacrifice so much financially, physically, and at home to pursue their dream of the kind of family, sportswomanship and comradery that only Derby can offer.
And boy can Ruthless go on that track. Nippy, effortlessly weaving, and just a downright pocket rocket. Her preparation and work she must have put into this role is outstanding. I never doubted she wasn’t a real derby girl for a second.
Some critics of this movie have complained that these women (Babe in particular) don’t look like real Derby girls. I officially call bullshit. I try and steer clear of negativity in this blog as I treat it as an outright celebration. But again. I call bullshit.
The argument is that the girls aren’t the size of the larger ladies of Derby reality.
Well I’ve seen tiny blockers hold their own against jammers twice their “size”. I’ve also seen “larger” jammers match speed with girls half their “size”.
Size is not an issue in Roller Derby. It’s a word that doesn’t exist in this sport. It’s an ugly presumption in a word that girls can’t do a certain thing. And for a third and final time, I call bullshit.
So it’s no surprise that Babe Ruthless is utterly convincing. If you want something and are willing to put in the graft, you’ll get it.
Boy did Babe Ruthless graft for this role. Boy did she get it.
Maggie Mayhem (above right), and her alter ego Kristen Wiig, can go with anyone on the comedic front. She’s no different in her delivery here either.
But what I love in this is her home life. Not being able to sacrifice herself fully to the afterparty life and fun that goes with the aftermath of a bout because she has a son. Mayhem is a continuation of the real life juggling of a Roller Girls life.
Her love for her family of Hurl Scouts is never in doubt. Neither is the love for her son. It’s one of the most beautifully touching side stories of the movie and Maggie Mayhem proves she’s not just another comedy-only actress.
I don’t need to go into detail about Bloody Holly. I have and will again touch on her brilliance in greater detail elsewhere.
But she really brings her A-game to the physicality of the role just like she does as Zoe Bell in everything she does.
It’s also worth noting that she looks the most awesome on 8 wheels. The word Skills doesn’t do it justice.
WOW!!! I refuse to ever dislike Iron Maven in any form. The woman is in the thesaurus as an alternative word for Badass.
I despise her in this though. Go Maven for switching the cogs in my brain.
There is a glint at the end of her nicer side. But the way she owns her part in the grander scheme makes me really want the Scouts to kick her ass.
Iron Maven plays for Texas family The Holy Rollers. A real life squad I adore and always keep track of.
I hate the Holy Rollers in this. Hate Iron Maven. It’s the best compliment I could pay to an actress that she played a part so well, that I hated the unhateable. Disliked the team I love. What a woman.
It would take me another write-up of similar length to praise the rest of the amazing cast justifiably.
Babe’s parents. Wonderful.
Her best friend. Wouldn’t change a thing.
Ruthless’s boss. Subtly perfect.
Her boyfriend. Bleurgh. Loved it.
Coach Razor. Underappreciated, delightfully played, master tactician. One of my favourites.
Each individual is a rightful part of the weaving mesh that makes up this perfect story.
I am not affiliated with any Roller Derby team. I can’t skate for toffee. I have no right to cover a sport I have no hands on experience with.
But I can tell you how it makes an outsider looking in feel.
Coming from England, our main sport is men’s football (soccer). Since I was a child I had idolised the “beautiful game”. Even owning season tickets for my local crappy team.
Then money took over and the sport I had always loved had alienated a fan that isn’t driven one iota by the papery stuff.
As I gave up on football for good, a sporting void appeared. But I was ok with that.
Then came Roller Derby and I was like :
This sport didn’t grow on me over time. My brain exploded in seconds. Within a few days I had picked my team and was rewatching every bout I could with any teams involved.
To me this isn’t just a contact sport where women get to show they kick ass. It’s a massive, worldwide, welcoming, family.
They may not be your global, rich superstars like these overpaid divas in football. But they’re MY superstars.
Nobody inspires me more than these ladies of the flat track. Smashley Simpson had a vision with Whip It. That you are never, and will never be second best. You can reach that seemingly unobtainable gold. The glass ceiling only exists as a false projection from another mind to your own.
She may have cemented that vision with this movie. But the real life ladies of Roller Derby were showing me that from my first taste of Derby.
Thank you for your time xxx