Riding in Cars With Boys
True love? Not quite. But Bev and Ray (Barrymore and Zahn) have a good try
dir Penny Marshall
scr Morgan Upton Ward
with Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn, Adam Garcia, Lorraine Bracco, James Woods, Brittany Murphy, Sara Gilbert, Peter Facinelli, Rosie Perez, Desmond Harrington, Vincent Pastore, Skye McCole Bartusiak
release US 19.Oct.01; UK 7.Dec.01
Columbia 01/US 2h10

1 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
she did everything wrong, but got everything right Based on Beverly D'Onofrio's memoir, this film traces the life of a young woman from 15 to 35, through single parenthood, troubled marriage, you name it. But it's so mishandled and awash with sentimentality that it's almost unwatchable. Barrymore plays Bev, a feisty teen who gets pregnant by the wrong guy (Zahn), then marries him and tries to make the most of life, helped by her loyal best pal Fay (Murphy) and, sometimes, her parents (Woods and Bracco). The story is told in flashback as Bev and her grown son Jason (Garcia) work to get her book published.

The biggest mistake is that the filmmakers didn't trust Bev's story--they have Jason narrate instead. This throws everything off balance--a woman's life told from a man's voice ... while Jason's side story hijacks the whole film. And it gets worse: Marshall wrings every bit of emotion from each scene; even bits that try to be edgy or naughty are flooded with sweetness and light. There's not a whiff of irony or earthy reality--not even in the heroin junkie plot thread! And while the casting is quite good, performances are uneven. Barrymore isn't bad, but can't quite carry off either extreme of Bev's age range. Murphy and Zahn overdo every scene. And the best performances are, unsurprisingly, by Woods and Bracco, who give their characters the nuance missing from the script. Garcia is also excellent in a role that's more interesting than it first seems to be. All of this combines to create an utterly unconvincing and uninvolving film that's only sporadically entertaining because of the good story buried underneath.
themes, language cert 15 18.Oct.01

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall