movie/book thoughts: Whip It (2009) & Derby Girl by Shauna Cross

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Shauna Cross

This is one of the few instances where I have to say that the movie was better than the book.  Not because they changed any of the plot elements (in fact, the movie is almost scene-for-scene EXACTLY the same as the book) but it’s that you have to SEE a roller derby tournament in action to understand it. 

I read Derby Girl after seeing Whip It so in my mind I could easily picture Bliss and the Hurl Scouts skating around the ring.  In the film, they explain how roller derby is played in a simple montage, breaking it down for those of us that are uninitiated into the sport, a scene missing in the book.  I feel as though a reader just picking up Derby Girl would be confused by the appeal of the sport if they had never seen it before.  Cross doesn’t take a lot of time to describe the matches, they just sort of happen because it’s their existence that is important.  But getting to see Bliss play is way more fun.

I adored the movie.  Sure, it didn’t break any ground when it comes to teen storytelling – teen girl is stuck with crazy parent(s) (Bliss Cavener, played by Ellen Paige, has a mom obsessed with beauty pageants), teen girl rebels (by secretly joining a roller derby), teen girl excels at new things and feels accepted for who she is (by the Hurl Scouts), teen girl gets busted (for being under 18), teen girl must return to family (because she can’t play without their permission), but in the end, everything works out (um, I’m not gonna spoil it completely!!!).  So, why it’s all pretty cliche, it’s just executed so perfectly (directed by Drew Barrymore!) that you don’t mind that you’ve heard the tale before – you just want to hang out with Bliss and watch as she grows as a person. 

I definitely recommend the movie!  The book is good, but the movie does it so much better.

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