Drew Barrymore’s directing debut with “Juno’s” Ellen Page is a knock-out!

Devon Fitzgerald

If anything can top Ellen Page’s performance as an impregnated sassy-pants in “Juno,” it’s “Whip It,” another memorable Ellen Page characterization of a sassy teen, but this time, with a passion for roller-derby.

Directed by first-timer Drew Barrymore, “Whip It” opens as Bliss Cavender (Ellen Page) dyes her hair blue–just in time to compete in one of the many local beauty pageants her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) loves so dearly. Her mother is, predictably, horrified, and so begins 111 minutes of hilarious, yet strangely relatable, mother-daughter drama.

Page is nearly flawless as indie-rock loving Bliss, a small town high school senior who discovers the excitement of roller derby in nearby Austin, unbeknownst to her parents. While the video-game-like derby scenes will undoubtedly lead to an increased interest in the sport, the movie’s real strength lies in its characters personalities.

Teammate Maggie Mayhem (Kirsten Wiig) and rival Iron Maven (Juliet Lewis) are most memorable, as they attempt to survive in a world full of racy outfits and ruthless players. The combination of no-name actors, such as Bliss’ friend Pash (Alia Shawkat), and stars such as Jimmy Fallon–who thrives as creepy announcer “hot tub” Johnny Rocket–make for a refreshing quality of acting.

“Whip It” continues to set itself apart with its many quirks: the local Oink Joint where Bliss works, a father that hides out in a van watching football, and a coach that sometimes helps out the opposing team all while refusing to wear anything but jean shorts.

The movie is full of witty one-liners, as well as heart-felt dialogue, proof that author Shauna Cross succeeded in adapting her book to the Big Screen. The only downfall of the movie (if this can even be considered a negative) is Page’s role is eerily similar to hers in “Juno.”

Nonetheless, as a blend between clever writing, ideal casting, and impressive directing, “Whip It” flourishes on all levels.  And there’s even a little singing in it, too.