Story

Bliss (Ellen Page) and her best friend Pash (Alia Shawakat) live in the tiny Texas town of Bodeen. They dream of growing up and getting out. Bliss is pressured by her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) to participate in beauty pageants. She also feels like a misfit at school. So Bliss takes a chance and tries out for a roller derby team in Austin. She pushes herself and makes the team, which is called the Scouts. She finds that, despite the violence and aggression of the game, she really loves it. She is also very good.

With the help of a dedicated coach (Andrew Wilson), the Scouts go from last place to playing in the grand finals. Things look good until Bliss’s relationship with rocker Oliver (Landon Pigg) goes downhill. Her friendship with Pash also takes a turn for the worse. Finally, her family discovers that she has been lying to them to play in the roller derby. Bliss runs away and turns to her team mates for help. Although their advice is not what she wants to hear, Bliss listens to what they say. She heads back home to make up with her family and put the pieces of her life back together again.

Themes

Adolescent struggles for independence; dysfunctional mother–daughter relationship

Violence

This movie contains some violence. For example:

  • A girl elbows another in the nose, and blood gushes out.
  • The roller derby girls often knock into each other. They also punch, push, kick, knock and sabotage each other.
  • One player smashes another in the face.
  • The same girl tackles a man, knocks him to the ground, and punches him in the face and crotch.
  • Bliss knocks a girl off the stair railing at school.
  • The team members punch each other on the arms.
  • Two opposing team members have a food fight. They flick and smash food at each other, and then tackle each other to the ground, wrestling and hitting.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:

  • Many of the girls who take part in the roller derby are dressed up to scare their opponents. They have crazy hair, tattoos and scary expressions. Their physical appearance could be very intimidating to some younger viewers.
  • Some of the scenes where the roller derby girls get injured could disturb young children. These scenes include blood gushing from girls’ noses.

Over 8

Children in this age group are unlikely to be worried by anything in this movie.

Sexual references

This movie contains some sexual references. For example:

  • A male character refers to getting another character’s mother pregnant.
  • Pash says, ‘I like a good fondling. It’s so much simpler’. She is talking about a man who groped her in the shower.
  • Bliss tearfully tells her mother about losing her virginity. She says, ‘I gave him everything’.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie contains some use of substances. For example:

  • Two shop assistants laugh at Bliss’s mother, who bends down to admire some pretty ‘vases’. She doesn’t realise that they are used for smoking drugs.
  • Two girls in a hot tub drink something out of a flask.
  • Characters pass jugs of beer around at a party.
  • Bliss’s parents smoke in their kitchen. Her mother lights another cigarette later.
  • Pash quickly tosses a beer out of her hands as a police officer approaches her. She is arrested for drinking.
  • Bliss drinks beer with her father. He says she can have a sip, and she finishes his can.

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Bliss’ father slaps his wife’s bottom. She shakes her beasts and hips at him.
  • A member of the opposing team fondles another woman’s breast.
  • The roller derby women wear tight shirts and short skirts with fish net stockings. They show their thighs, cleavage and midriffs.
  • One of the roller derby players is called ‘Jabba the slut’.
  • Two girls compare bruises on their buttocks. They lift their shorts higher and higher while two boys look on.
  • Pash and a random stranger kiss and touch each other in the shower.
  • To help Pash throw up, Bliss tells her to visualise her father’s naked, sweaty balls.
  • A guy at school grabs his crotch and thrusts himself in Bliss’s direction.
  • A girl wears a low-cut, see-through top.
  • A naked man holds two dogs over his genitals and bottom as he scurries across his lawn.
  • Bliss and Oliver kiss in a deserted pool. They take off their clothes under water, leaving only their underwear on. We later learn that they have sex.
  • The host of the roller derby holds up a sign telling people to call him because he is STD-free.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Barbie roller skates.

Coarse language

This movie contains some mild to medium-level coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Whip It is an unusual drama that looks at an uncommon sport and brings it to life. This movie could appeal to a range of ages. Because of its content, however, the movie is suitable only for mature audiences.

The main messages from this movie are to be true to yourself. The movie suggests you should have the courage to make your own path, no matter how impossible it might seem. Values in this movie that you could reinforce with older children include:

  • hard work and determination
  • making sacrifices for others
  • forgiveness.

This movie could give you the chance to talk about real-life issues with your children. In particular, you could discuss the consequences of:

  • sleeping with people that you hardly know
  • deceiving the people who love you the most
  • putting your own desires before your friends’ needs
  • trying to run away instead of facing your problems.

You could also talk about several behaviours that your children might imitate. For example, there are several scenes that feature risky sexual behaviour and drinking. Also, Bliss and her friends never wear seatbelts when they’re in cars.