Riding In Cars With Boys
Based on the memoirs of Beverly D'Onofrio, the story follows the life of one girl who has a baby at 15 and tries everything in her power to make her life---and her son's---a better one. Let the sappiness, I mean happiness, begin.
Meet Beverly D'Onofrio (Drew Barrymore), a woman on her way to getting her first book published. She is driving with her grown son, Jason (Adam Garcia), back to her hometown in Connecticut for the first time in many years. Together, they begin discussing Beverly's book, a memoir of her life. Jumping back to 1968, we meet Beverly as a bright 15-year-old girl with a talent for writing. She dreams about going to college and getting out of her small-town existence. But like most teenagers, she and her best friend, Fay (Brittany Murphy), also have a penchant for boys--except Bev picks them from the wrong side of the tracks. Inevitably Bev meets Ray (Steve Zahn), a sweet guy but a total screw-up, gets pregnant and has a son. Now, she's stuck..and stuck..and still stuck---unhappy and taking it out on her child throughout the years. On this road trip, she comes to grips with what she's done with her life and her son's.
Barrymore has certainly come into her own as an actress, choosing projects that highlight her sweet comedic talent such as The Wedding Singer and Never Been Kissed. In Boys, she goes for the melodramatic, and although she has some great moments, the material actually brings her down. Her Beverly is an annoying, selfish woman who never really shows much affection towards her son--not what you would call a flattering portrayal in any way. However, some of the supporting performances are outstanding, including James Woods- as Beverly's cop father and Murphy as the best friend who is about as loyal as it comes. Zahn really stands out as Ray, the good-hearted but drug-addicted father. His tender scene with his son before he leaves the house for good was heartfelt and real. If anyone is to get an Oscar nomination from this film, it may be him.
Maybe it was director Penny Marshall's intention, but the movie makes you feel like you too are stuck as you watch one opportunity after another pass Beverly by. It was exhausting and hardly worth the time spent in the theater. Marshall has had such a nice touch with comedies before such as Big and A League of Their Own, but she can definitely turn on the schmaltz when she wants to, and she does it in spades in Boys. Of course, the funny moments were wonderful. Barrymore getting ready for a big scholarship interview with her adorable three-year-old watching her was fun, but you've seen most of it in the trailer. Perhaps the fault lies not with Marshall or Barrymore, but rather with the plodding script, which basically goes nowhere. Once again, Hollywood has decided to make a movie that would have been better suited for television.
The moral of the story is don't get pregnant at 15---and don't go see a movie where the main character does, either, and spends the rest of the time making everyone, including the audience, miserable.