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

Contest: Hey Arnold! The Complete Series
The football-headed Arnold and all his pals are here in this box set with all 99 adventures from the beloved Nickelodeon series. It's available exclusively at Walmart, but I have a copy to give away! Send

posted 12:20:14pm Aug. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Dylan Brody on Comedy, Depression, and Robin Williams
Dylan Brody is a comedy writer and stand-up performer dubbed "brilliant" by Robin Williams.  It was Williams' tragic suicide that inspired Brody to write a moving essay about his own struggles wit

posted 8:06:10am Aug. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Opera Flash Mob at a London Grocery Store
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/44UC6muN8KY" frameborder="0"] Sacla staged an impromptu Opera in the food aisles of a London grocery store. They planted five secret opera singers who were disguised as casual shoppers and store staff amongst the groceries who bro

posted 8:00:13am Aug. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip: Juliette Lewis in "Kelly and Cal"
Juliette Lewis stars as a rocker-turned suburban mother of a newborn in "Kelly and Cal."  Here she tries to make friends with the other mothers, who treat her like mean girls shooing off a freshman who wants to sit at the cool table. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/

posted 6:00:09am Aug. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Love is Strange
Love is strange.  As this movie opens, a deeply devoted couple of more than three decades wakes up and prepares for a big, important, emotional, happy occasion.  They bicker a little bit, but it is clear to them and to us that these are reassuringly familiar rhythms for them, almost a contrapuntal

posted 5:59:53pm Aug. 28, 2014 | 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.