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Riding In Cars with Boys

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Riding In Cars with Boys

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn
Director: Penny Marshall
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 122 Minutes
Release Date: October 2001
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Sara Gilbert, Brittany Murphy, Mika Boorem, Vincent Pastore, Lorraine Bracco, Adam Garcia, Rosie Perez, James Woods, Peter Facinelli

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Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

"I screwed up," admits Drew Barrymore as Beverly Donofrio, a wayward teen who desperately wants to go to college but refuses to heed her policeman dad's advice to "Keep your mind on books, not boys." Indeed, when her unplanned baby is born, her disappointed father (James Woods) murmurs to the swaddled newborn: "Your mother's 15. Your father's a moron - and they want me to celebrate?" Despite the fact that she's a self-centered, self-indulgent, self-destructive mother, showing a callous lack of responsibility, the boy grows up to be a precociously bright, charming, well-adjusted child (Logan Lerman) and then young man (Adam Garcia). Aging on-screen from 15 to 36, Drew Barrymore obviously relishes wallowing in the faults and foibles of her unsympathetic character but, as her drug-addicted slacker husband, Steve Zahn delivers the most memorable performance, followed by Brittany Murphy as her best-friend. James Woods is convincing as the stern yet loving father and Lorraine Bracco is simply a cipher as her mother. Adapted by Morgan Upton Ward from Beverly Donofrio's autobiography, the script awkwardly skips backwards - then forwards - in time, creating disjointed anecdotal fragments which even Penny Marshall's comedic direction cannot overcome. What does succeed is Bill Groom's meticulous production design which flawlessly evokes working-class Wallingford, CT, in the '60s, even though it was filmed near Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Riding in Cars With Boys" is an infuriating 5, unless you go for perpetually crying chicks and a maudlin, happily-ever-after excuse for teenage pregnancy.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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