COMEDY; 1hr 51min
STARRING: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Drew Barrymore, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis
Good to go-go: Barrymore
Small-town Texas is a big ol’ bore for square-peg 17-year-old Bliss (Juno charmer Page), trapped in pageant limbo by her domineering mother (Harden; Daniel Stern is her genial dad). Then Bliss discovers the Austin roller derby in all its freewheeling glory. She is hooked on the slam-bam adrenaline — and the skimpy outfits and stage names don’t hurt any, either. Maggie Mayhem! (Wiig), Smashley Simpson! (Barrymore), Iron Maven! (Lewis). Bliss makes the Hurl Scouts team, gets edgy as Babe Ruthless and meets a cute guy (Landon Pigg). Whip it good!
The Scouts aren’t much of an outfit. But this being a girly story of empowerment, proficiently directed by first-timer Barrymore, they begin to get their act together once Bliss is on board — plus she is a streak of greased lightning on the track. Meanwhile, Bliss is still dutifully working the pageant circuit and fibbing to her blissfully ignorant folks, a juggling act that is bound to take a fall. It’s painful when it does but by no means the end-all of anyone’s world: Barrymore — working from Shauna Cross’s screenplay of her 2007 novel — is too much of an optimist for that, and barring the odd speed bump, this is one breezy ride.