Weve watched Drew Barrymore evolve from a dewy-eyed creature lover in E.T., to gun-toting and impish harlot in Bad Girls, and even out of control and pregnant best friend in Boys On The Side. I guess it is time to see her as an adult, as we do in Riding In Cars With Boys.
I fear I wasnt fully paying attention, or they deliberately tried to deceive us, when in the opening scenes we meet Jason (Adam Garcia), mauling over a conversation he must have, we presume with a girlfriend, trying to end a relationship. Yeah, I was hooked in immediately on that one and didnt realize until much later duh, this is JASON. Oh, well, if it was supposed to do that, then it worked for me anyway.
Jason is young, attractive, apparently educated and successful. You just wonder for a split second when he pulls up and Beverly Ann Donofrio-Hasek (Drew Barrymore) proceeds to start yelling at the top of her lungs, loads her things in his car as well as herself hey, shes a lot older than he is, a lot more brash, I can see why he wants to end this relationship. I mean, she is a steamroller, crushing him for Gods sake.
Then we flashback to ummmm Jasons roots, so to speak.
The entire movie deals with flashbacks, and cuts forward, but didnt seem confusing mainly because Barrymore is able to fall back into the persona of a naïve young girl both in looks and attitude, much like she did in Never Been Kissed. Im not saying her acting was all that, just that through make-up, clothing style, vocabulary, and presence, you are able to believe she really is a 15 year old girl again.
The story is based on the real life experiences of Beverly Ann Donofrio-Hasek and the results of becoming a single mom. Even though she married that low-life Ray Hasek (Steve Zahn), at a young age and tried to make something better of her life and her childs life. The fact that she becomes so focused on this, often seeming to ignore the child, doesnt necessarily make her a bad mom, but certainly a better mother than Hasek was a father.
Her experience (childbirth and marriage) is shared with her best friend, Brittany (Fay Hope Forrester) who announces at Beverlys wedding (what a sad wedding that was) that she is pregnant as well. We often was these young girls as they view their peers going on with school and all the things that young teens do should do and need to do realizing ourselves that this pressure is going to meet a boiling point some day. After all, these are babies having babies.
Was this an earth shattering movie? Doubtful, but who needs to have their earth shattered every time they sit down in front of a blank screen? Did it have any messages? Without a shadow of a doubt. Directed by Penny Marshall, you generally find that she tries to deal with movies that convey a message of some sort. I cant say that this was always a positive one, but it delivered.
Its a movie that deals with growing and the experiences associated with growing. First, the time frame was much different (flash backs), back in the 60s when sweet young things didnt get pregnant unless they got married. Least of all, the daughter of the town sheriff (policeman, deputy, whatever), played by a stoic James Woods and a subservient mother played by Lorraine Bracco. Ah, hormones, they dont necessarily care of you are a bright girl heading for college. When you are tempted by that town bad boy, things dont always work out the way they were planned.
Steve Zahn played a remarkably bad part, almost seeming slow-witted during most of the movie. Perhaps it was the drugs or maybe his family tree didnt branch out too far. The relationship between Beverly and Ray was doomed from the start because frankly they were not mental or emotional equals. I was surprised the marriage lasted as long as it did, perhaps would have gone on if the lure of heroin wasnt stronger than the lure of a cherubic six year old (Cody Arens).
While not the strongest actress in Hollywood, Barrymore gave much more to the movie than the part required. I think perhaps she enjoyed the chance to show a little more mature side of her character, as she did in the adult role, as well as the playgirl in the young role. I particularly enjoyed the time she was determined to help Ray through his withdrawal symptoms on her own, and tried to disguise his hellish pain with the quirky dance for the benefit of Jason. Admittedly, many thought this was a low point in the movie, almost an attempt to be cute and adorable, but I guess those people have never been in a situation similar to what she was going through. For those of us that can identify with it, it rang way too true. Throughout the movie, you can see that she wants nothing more than a better life for them than they had at the time.
Was the ending quickly predictable? Probably, but you already had time invested in the characters so you wanted the ending to evolve like it did. Some of it seemed a little unbelievable, but I guess they needed that just so you could get the warm fuzzy when it was time. I must insert though, Rosie Perez? Never cared for her, probably never will.
Skye McCole was nominated for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Young Actress Age Ten or Under from Young Artists. Even more fun than the movie, was reminiscing to these songs: ~All I Have To Do Is Dream -The Everly Brothers ~I Got You Babe - Sonny & Cher ~I Wanna Love Him So Bad - Jelly Beans ~Down In The Boondocks - Billy Joe Royal ~One Fine Day - The Chiffons ~She's About a Mover - Sir Douglas Quintet ~Piece Of My Heart - Big Brother & The Holding Company ~End Of The World - Skeeter Davis ~O-o-h Child - The Five Stairsteps ~Cincinnati Dancing Pig - Vic Damone ~ I Just Want To Celebrate - Rare Earth ~Girls Just Want To Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper
Yes, this has chick flick slapped all over it and justifiably so. With all those macho Rambo type movies out there for you guys, seldom do ladies get the opportunity to look back and say Jesus, Im glad Im not 15 all over again. That is where is movie takes you. You might not understand it if you have never been a 15 year old girl and Riding In Cars With Boys.