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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Whip It

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The hard-edged world of women's roller derby provides the setting for the coming-of-age tale "Whip It" (Fox Searchlight). Rather than serving as a forum for feminist self-expression, as first-time director Drew Barrymore seems to intend, the rough and tumble of the showcased competition—with its skimpy outfits and bruising smackdowns calculated to delight boorish male fans—comes across as more exploitative than empowering.

Throwing herself into this ostensibly liberating underground sport is restless small-town Texas high school student Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page). Since her strong-willed, socially ambitious mother Brooke's (Marcia Gay Harden) fondest wish for Bliss is that she become the queen of the local beauty pageant circuit, Bliss carefully conceals her new enthusiasm both from Mom and from her amiable but henpecked father Earl (Daniel Stern).

With the support of her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat), and despite not having skated since she was a little girl, Bliss gains a spot on an Austin-based team known as the Hurl Scouts, becoming the protege of their captain, Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig). As her skills improve and her star rises, Bliss—who now goes by the moniker Babe Ruthless— discovers romance, falling for derby fan and local rock singer Oliver (Landon Pigg) whom she meets at one of the Scouts' matches.

Barrymore's genre-blending debut—partly a sports drama and a romantic comedy as well as a chronicle of teen maturation—in which she plays Smashley Simpson, another of Bliss' colorfully nicknamed teammates, is buoyed by heartfelt performances from its principals.

But, though Shauna Cross' script, adapted from her own novel of the same title, has Bliss grapple with the negative consequences of premature freedom—and come to a better appreciation of her parents—it also, at least partially, glamorizes her irresponsible sexual experimentation.

The film contains nongraphic nonmarital underage sexual activity, brief partial nudity, underage drinking, occasional irreverence, a few uses of profanity, some sexual humor and references, about a dozen crude terms and much crass language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

______________________________
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Giles Mary of St. Joseph: In the same year that a power-hungry Napoleon Bonaparte led his army into Russia, Giles Mary of St. Joseph ended a life of humble service to his Franciscan community and to the citizens of Naples. 
<p>Francesco was born in Taranto to very poor parents. His father’s death left the 18-year-old Francesco to care for the family. Having secured their future, he entered the Friars Minor at Galatone in 1754. For 53 years he served at St. Paschal’s Hospice in Naples in various roles, such as cook, porter or most often as official beggar for that community. </p><p>“Love God, love God” was his characteristic phrase as he gathered food for the friars and shared some of his bounty with the poor—all the while consoling the troubled and urging everyone to repent. The charity which he reflected on the streets of Naples was born in prayer and nurtured in the common life of the friars. The people whom Giles met on his begging rounds nicknamed him the “Consoler of Naples.” He was canonized in 1996.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus, our crucified Lord, you know us better than we know ourselves. Help us to see the ways in which we not only act out in selfishness, greed, or shortsightedness, but also in those ways we choose to ignore, forget, and step over aspects of our lives and others for which we need 
forgiveness.

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