Malcolm Taylor/Getty Images

Malcolm Taylor/Getty Images

What was Ellen Page going to do after making such a splash in “Juno“? The 21 year-old actress really had to find material that could advance her career but not look like a “Juno” sequel.

She found it in the film adaptation of Shauna Cross’s book, “Whip It.” The film opened last night in Toronto, with Page taking the kudos for leading a strong cast of woman, as well as Daniel Stern and Landon Pigg, through a Girl Power adventure centered on Roller Derby. First time director Drew Barrymore, who refused to do a standard Q&A after the film, is helped in large part by veteran’cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman and expert film editor Dylan Tichenor. Their contributions cannot be overemphasized, as is this is a movie incredibly dependent on style to make it a hit.

And’a hit it shall be. A chick flick for teen chicks who will dig the empowerment theme. Page’s Bliss and her mom, played by the world class Marcia Gay’Harden, are at odds. Mom wants her to’be Little Miss Sunshine, appearing in talent’and beauty pageants.’Bliss is already going punk, trying to shed $800 custom-made’gowns for’Army boots and blue hair. When she spots some roller girls in Austin, Texas,’a spell is cast. She knows this is her destiny.

Some of’”Whip It” is cliche, especially the stuff with the overbearing 1950s mom in 2009. But Harden is so good that she and Stern ‘ who plays her husband ‘ manage to rise above it all. (They come perilously close to Juno’s parents, from that movie.) In the’end, Page ‘ who did her own skating and stunts ‘ makes it all worthwhile. And Tichenor makes the’roller derby come alive, even when you don’t completely understand what’s going on.

Author
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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