Riding In Cars With Boys


Directed by: Penny Marshall
Written by:Morgan Ward
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Adam Garcia, Brittany Murphy, James Woods, Lorraine Bracco, Peter Facinelli
Released: November 22, 2001
Grade: C+

The title is a mouthful but even harder to swallow is the film itself.  An adaptation of Beverly D’Onofrio’s autobiographical novel, Beverly is played by Drew Barrymore.  We meet her in the late 60s when as a 15-year-old, has a one-night stand with Ray Haseck (Zahn) and winds up pregnant.

Ray does the admirable thing and marries Beverly but everyone’s lives and plans have turned upside down.  Beverly wanted to go to College and become a writer but is forced to drop out of school to care for her son.  Her father (Woods) won’t talk to her for disgracing the family name.  Her husband isn’t proving to be quite the supporting man she hoped for.  And her best friend, Fay (Murphy), has also fallen pregnant and faces a similarly disenchanting future. 

Screenwriter Morgan Ward has chosen to tell the story by way of flashbacks.  We are introduced to Beverly as a 35-year-old travelling in a car with her son, Jason (Garcia), who is now 20.  Then in a serious of length scenes, we look back on the defining moments of the last 20 years.  It’s an unoriginal style which I guess suits the unoriginal screenplay.

It is boring.  It’s obvious that a female audience is targeted but I’m sure even they will be as disinterested as I.  Despite the magic of make-up, I was disappointed in their ability to age characters over time.  Drew Barrymore at 15 looks much the same as Drew Barrymore at 35 - the only difference is her hairstyle.  And I couldn’t believe they cast Adam Garcia as her son.  Do you realise he’s actually two years older than her in real life!

Melodramatic is the perfect word to describe Riding In Cars With Boys.  What more do you expect from a film directed by Penny Marshall?  I’m not consciously discriminating against her but she takes sentimentality to unnecessary levels.  Credits include Awakenings, A League Of Their Own and The Preacher’s Wife.

Save yourself the trouble.  If you do happen to be “riding in cars with boys”, make sure you’re not heading in the direction of the local cinema to see this film.