Riding in Cars with Boys (2001)
Reviewed on 2008 January 25
Imagine the fear of being a girl in high school in the 1960s and having to tell your parents you’re pregnant. Worse, both your parents (James Woods and Lorraine Bracco) are strict and your daddy’s a tough cop. You can imagine the reception you’re going to get, right?
Bev D’Onofrio (Drew Barrymore) gets to brave this gauntlet after a few dates with Ray Hasek (Steve Zahn), and we know that it’s doomed from start when she tells him she’s pregnant and we hear his proposal to her. Her parents are so focused on the shame they can’t see any other solution than for him to marry her, and they try to start a life in small subsidized house in a cul-de-sac.
Bev’s life is in a holding pattern and things just keep getting worse for her, admittedly some of it through her own choices but some through the idiotic decisions of others.
Drew Barrymore did a wonderful job portraying Bev, moving from a flighty, verbally gifted fifteen-year-old to a published writer. Penny Marshall was able to present D’Onofrio’s tale without making it too depressing; I’ve read complaints it was sugar-coated and it does deviate some from D’Onofrio’s autobiographical novel but it’s still a good movie. Artificially sweetened or not, you feel the claustrophobia of being stuck in a small house and only able to land dead-end jobs because you can’t further your education. It’s hard not to feel sorry for poor Bev during the wedding scene.
Three chocolate morsels.