Riding in Cars with Boys (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/07/2001

Two out of five stars
Running time: 132 mins

Riding In Cars With Boys is based on an autobiographical novel and stars Drew Barrymore as Beverly Donofrio, between ages 15 and 35 (not surprisingly, she’s considerably more believable in the earlier part).

Initially, she’s a slightly awkward teenager with an unrequited crush on a football player who’s way out of her league. However, at a party, she meets and falls for local slacker Ray (Steve Zahn) and before you can say ‘Let’s fool around’, she’s pregnant at aged 15, much to the annoyance of her police officer father (James Woods).

Beverly harbours dreams of one day becoming –surprise!- a writer, so she’s understandably depressed when she reluctantly agrees to marry Ray and give up her dreams of college.

The rest of the film deals with the ups and downs of her married life, interspersed with a present-day section in which she’s being driven by her grown-up son (Adam Garcia, last seen in Coyote Ugly) to see her estranged husband, who by this time has sunk so low that he’s living in a trailer with Rosie Perez…

Riding In Cars With Boys has two major things going for it: the support performances by both Steve Zahn (always brilliant, but here managing to elicit sympathy for a genuinely pathetic character) and Brittany Murphy (currently taking Hollywood by storm after roles in Girl, Interrupted, and the forthcoming Don’t Say A Word and Sidewalks of New York) – her "My daughter’s a tramp! You’ve ruined your life!" scene, where she’s role-playing the reaction of Beverly’s mother to the pregnancy, is one of the film’s highlights.

There’s also great support from James Woods as her father and, in a tiny-but-memorable appearance, Mika Boorem, playing Beverly as a ten-year-old.

Barrymore herself is very good in the earlier parts of the film, but less convincing when she’s supposed to be playing a 35-year old, relying instead on a heavy make-up job and keeping her features as still as possible.

In the end, the film just isn’t involving enough to merit its frankly overlong running time. There are individual moments that liven things up, but the rest of the film fails to grab you the way you feel it should.

Still, die-hard Drew fans should lap it up and the support performances ensure it’s always at least watchable, if, ultimately, nothing special.

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Riding in Cars with Boys (12)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 15:56

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