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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

September 30, 2009 at 11:28 AM

Drew Barrymore: In the director’s chair for “Whip It”

I have never met Drew Barrymore, but I think of her a little protectively; she exudes such warmth and sweet vulnerability, in all of her screen roles, that you come to think of her as a friend. So I was a bit worried before seeing “Whip It,” her debut as a director — would it disappoint? Some actors (Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, Robert Redford) transition into directors quite nicely; others (Kevin Spacey’s “Beyond the Sea” comes to mind) find the switch less graceful. You’ll see my full review of “Whip It” tomorrow, but Barrymore rises to the occasion, with her trademark loopy charm intact. It’s a sweet girl-meets-roller-derby tale, not too ambitious but nicely handled, with an especially fine touch with her actors (particularly Ellen Page and Marcia Gay Harden, as daughter and mother).
Barrymore, who’s already donned roller skates on screen (in the second “Charlie’s Angels” movie), spoke to the New York Times about directing “Whip It,” and the expectations on her:

“People say, ‘Did you always want to direct?’ or ‘Do you think you’ll ever direct again?’ I’m always very polite about it,” she said, adding, with good-natured defiance, “Do you really think I haven’t been preparing for this my whole life? And I’m just going to try it once and then never do it again? It baffles me. And then I just think, ‘Oh God, they just don’t know me.’ “

But I especially loved the quote that closes the story. It’s very Drew — at least, the Drew that so many of us feel like we know: “I sort of collected everything from my whole life into this piggy bank, and I crashed it over the floor for this film.”

The girls are back: Drew Barrymore, Ellen Page and Kristin Wiig in “Whip It.” Photo by Darren Michaels, courtesy of Fox Searchlight.

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