Movie Review: Whiplash


Ba doom ba dooom badaa bada trem trem trem ba do dam bam spleebidy chipida badoom da beem dam wim khicka phicka ba been rim chippa skididdildiddlidll wa chim ba dem bam boom TISSHSHHHHHSHSH.  That was my impression of a person playing the drums.  Next I will do my impression of a trumpet solo.  BBRRRRRRRUUU– oh, you’d like me to just get to the review?  Ok.

Whiplash tells the story of aspiring drummer Andrew (Miles “Better Shia LeBeouf” Teller) as he attends the best music school in the country, the Shaffer Conservatory.  There, he has to earn the respect of Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), the frightening teacher who intentionally acts like a dick while using scare tactics on his students to get more out of their performances.  That’s basically the most I could tell you about the plot of the film without giving too much away.  The title can refer to a few different things in the film; none of them involving the bad guy from Iron Man 2.

I went into this not really expecting much more than a good performance from Simmons, maybe a decent performance from Teller, but they ended up putting on a total acting clinic and knocking it *way* out of the park.  You could say it’s easy for someone to act like a yelly jerk and be attention grabbing, which is true, but its Simmons’ back-and-forth insane attitude that puts him as my favorite to win a Best Supporting Actor Oscar this year.  Fletcher is a dude who will shout in someone’s face, then be bend over backwards nice to someone in another scene, throw a chair at someone the next scene, cry passionately over music in the scene after that, and then go full circle and yell at someone else so intensely that it makes them cry.  I don’t think I’ve been that intimidated by someone’s projected image on a screen in a really long time.  Fletcher gave his students the benefit of a chance just long enough to where that queasy feeling in my stomach started happening when I knew stuff was about three seconds away from turning to absolute crap for these people.  He made me super anxious the whole movie.  But that was, like, the point, ya know?



If I have to fault the film for anything, it’s maybe that there’s one too many convenient plot altering twists here and there that felt somewhat forced.  Like, how many times is this kid going to be late to practice, or forget something?  Get it together, dude.  And there’s a relationship subplot that’s super minor, and maybe seems a tad crammed in there, but it provides a little extra flavor as to how this school is messing with Andrew’s life all around.  I didn’t hate that it was in the movie, but also wouldn’t have really missed it if it wasn’t there.  It doesn’t take up that much time.  The dinner scene also felt a little out of place.

But the ending is awesome.  It totally sealed the deal for Whiplash to be one of my favorite movies of the year.  I had a freakin’ adrenaline high after I walked out of this film.  The same bodily thrill normally reserved for after I see a high-speed action movie.  I’d recommend seeing it in theaters so you can get fully immersed in the whole thing, and have the best available speakers available to hear the jazz music I went into expecting to completely shrug off, but actually ended up giving me sweaty palms.  THIS MOVIE IS EXCITING.  GO SEE IT.

9.5 out of 10

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