There are few movies that hold as much nostalgia for me as the Drew Barrymore-directed “Whip It,” released in 2009. I grew up watching roller derby in my hometown and, because “Whip It” was the only movie I’d ever seen about roller derby, it quickly became a favorite.
The movie itself emanates 2000s alternative coolness. Elliot Page plays a teenager who attempts to find a way out of her small Texas hometown through joining a roller derby team. In the same way that “Juno” feels eternally 2007, “Whip It” feels eternally 2009.
When I got my first iPod, I downloaded the soundtrack to the movie. It left an imprint on me that I think likely contributes to my interest in alternative music today.
The movie utilizes a lot of high-tempo rock. The Ramones’ “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker,” featured in the film, is arguably the first thing that led me towards punk rock. Throughout the story, Page’s character Bliss is faced with choosing between two worlds– that of her mother, which is full of pageants and custom gowns, and that of her roller derby dreams, filled with blue hair, scraped knees and beer.
“Pot Kettle Black” by Tilly and The Wall matches the high-tempo theme and adds in a new theme of chanting-shouting-screaming that the rest of the soundtrack showcases as well, with “Boys Wanna Be Her” by Peaches keeping it up. Lyrics from Peaches’ song repeat “The boys wanna be her / The girls wanna be her,” undoubtedly adding to how badly I wanted to be Bliss Cavendar.
The soundtrack features a lot of then-current indie rock, but also has a few classics such as 38 Special’s “Caught Up In You” and “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. At a point in the story where Bliss begins to date a new love interest, the music gets a bit softer, with tracks like “Learningalilgivinanlovin” by Gotye (pre-Somebody That I Used to Know!).
The movie itself is a bit of a mess– weird pacing, plot holes and questionable aspects of its storyline keeps it from standing up to much criticism– but it’s incredibly loveable, and its soundtrack is equally sentimental.