Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Riding in Cars With Boys

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:Teen pregnancy
Alcohol/Drugs:Substance abuse, including heroin
Violence/Scariness:Tense family scenes
Diversity Issues:All characters white
Movie Release Date:2001

Like the life of its subject matter, there is a lot that is wrong with this movie, but there is also something right enough for a bittersweet happy ending.

Drew Barrymore stars in the true story of Beverly Donofrio, whose dreams of going to NYU and becoming a writer seemed impossible when she became pregnant at age 15. Beverly was the daughter of a policeman (James Woods) and a homemaker (Lorraine Bracco). When she became pregnant by a sweet but irresponsible drop-out (Steve Zahn as Ray), her parents insisted that they get married. They spent the next seven years on welfare. As the movie begins, Beverly has written her life story. She and her son, now in college, have a wintery journey of reconciliation as they seek out Ray to get him to sign a release so that the book can be published. The story alternates between that snowy car ride and flashbacks to the past that led up to it.

The commercials for this movie make it look like an up-beat story with a lot of cute sit-com-y moments, but it is not. Bev is not a good mother. She is so angry at Ray, her son Jason, and her parents that her behavior is often selfish and bitter. If an actress less irresistible than Barrymore were in the role, we would stop caring whether she ever got to college. The script makes some odd choices in showing us too many scenes of Bev’s despair and nothing about what she did that finally pulled her life together. Jason’s romantic involvement seems to tie up too many loose ends to be authentic. Director Penny Marshall bangs too hard on the cultural signifiers of each era Bev lives through. Her music choices are uncharacteristically pedestrian, with nothing that hasn’t been used dozens of times before. I hereby propose punishment of a week in movie-maker prison for the next person who puts “I Feel Good” in a movie. It is the most over-used song in movie history.

But the movie gets four stars just for Barrymore’s performance as she shows us Bev at 15, 20, and 35. Zahn, always a marvelous actor in comedy or drama, gives a performance of great generosity and heart. There are also great moments from Brittany Murphy, as Bev’s friend Fay, and Woods as Bev’s dad.

Parents should know that the movie has non-explicit teenage sex and pregnancy. Characters drink, smoke, and use drugs, including use of a hallucinogenic drug while watching a child and heroin addiction. A character sells drugs, and Bev and Fay briefly become involved in helping him. There is a painful scene of withdrawal. All of this is presented in a realistic manner with realistic consequences that should help teenagers understand the seriousness of this behavior. There is also some strong language.

Families who see this movie should talk about how families support members who have made bad choices and the importance of accepting responsibility for your mistakes. What did Bev’s family do wrong? What did they do right? Why was she able to achieve her dream? What did Jason do to make her see things differently? What do you think about Ray’s comment that the best thing he could do for Jason was to leave him?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Diner (some mature material).



Previous Posts

Black or White
Writer-director Mike Binder sure likes to get Kevin Costner drunk. As in his uneven but impressive "The Upside of Anger," Binder once again has Costner playing a man who is a little lost and a usual

posted 5:58:45pm Jan. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Black Sea
Two comments made by characters in this film summarize what it is that makes submarine stories so instantly compelling. "Outside is just dark, cold, and death," says one. "We all live together or

posted 3:51:06pm Jan. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Ira Glass Talks to "Boyhood's" Richard Linklater and Ellar Coltrane
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/D6mwbnSIk4c" frameborder="0"] "Boyhood" writer/director Richard Linkater and star Ellar Coltrane talk to "This American Life's" Ira Glass about making the film over a twelve year period that began when Coltrane was six years old.

posted 9:59:48am Jan. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Super Bowl Commercials 2015: Highlights and Previews
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/P6K0siUb5Ts?rel=0" frameborder="0"] Which one are you looking forward to?

posted 9:41:33am Jan. 29, 2015 | read full post »

For the First Time at Sundance: A Panel on Faith and Films
The acclaimed Sundance Film Festival, where ground-breaking films and indie favorites often premiere, will have its first-ever panel discussion of faith and films this week. “Hollywood reflects soci

posted 3:37:53pm Jan. 28, 2015 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.