“ Genre: Comedy / Theatrical Release: 2001 / Director: Penny Marshall / Actors: Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn ... / DVD released 04 April, 2005 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, PAL, Widescreen „
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I absolutely love this coming of age movie. Based on one of those misery memoirs that now take up shelf space at Tesco's near you, this bucks the trend by actually presenting its characters as real 3 dimensional people with real problems, but who laugh and cry, enjoy and endure, and basically potter through life without whinging about how crap it is for 97 minutes.
Riding.... follows Beverley over a twenty year period, from the point where she meets likeable loser Ray and falls pregant to the point where she is about to publish her own life story. Back in the beginning, it was wholly unacceptable for a girl to be pregnant and shame her family, and therefore she is forced down the aisle and into a life that causes her resentment and bitterness.
As Ray fails to provide any decent standard of life for Beverly and her son Jason, she has to fend for herself doing minimum wage jobs and studying. Forging a lifelong friendship with fellow teen and gymslip mother Fay is just part of the road that Beverly takes as she hurtles into womanhood dragging her child along for the ride. The story is told through a series of flashbacks from Beverley's point of view.
This film could have had all the trappings of a romantic comedy gone wrong, but it manages to sidestep that by being genuinely warm, funny, but also having those bittersweet moments that elevate it from some Jennifer Aniston / Paul Rudd love-in. It's neither here nor there whether it's a true story or not, its not entirely dissimilar from something that Hollywood might have conjured up anyway, but it's Drew Barrymore's ordinary likeability that really lend the film credibility.
Barrymore is in good company. Steve Zahn is a treat as good for nothing Ray. He isn't just given a persona of loser that everybody hates. You actually feel for him all the way through the film, and wish that he would just get his socks up and do right by Beverley and Jason. What is also good is how these two actors are able to pull off their teenage persona's with exactly the same believability as their thirty something persona's (given that both were probably in their thirties when they made this film).
While the film belongs to Zahn and Barrymore, there's no way that James Wood (criminally underused) and Brittany Murphy shouldn't get a mention. Wood is cracking as always, a man usually working beneath himself. As Barrymore's father, you have to feel sorry for a man who is eternally disappointed by a daughter who appears to let him down at every turn. On the upside, Murphy is comedy gold and her imaginery conversation with Beverley in the street had me screaming with laughter.
There are no tidy finishes to this film. The lead character bemoans, cries, and tantrums her way through her life, and her ultimate controlling of her son is what threatens to rip them apart. Her life and those around her are messy, and remain that way long after the credits roll. However, as often as Beverley decries her life, she is also universally likable, and not that different to a lot of women who have kids with guys who either do the off or who are a bit useless all round.
Penny Marshall does a great job of directing, pulling performances from her actors that far outweigh the soap-opera material of the book it is based on. She manages to get sympathy for her lead character, despite her at times being a selfish madam who complains about what little she has had, and how hard her life has been, regardless of how hard the lives of everybody around her has actually been. The soundtrack is fantastic, a tour de force of American pop music throughout the years that the film is set within. The only thing wrong is the lack of extra's on the DVD.
- Cast/Credits -
- Story -
Riding In Cars With Boys is set in the 1960s tells the story of a young Beverley Donofrio, who ends up with an unplanned pregnancy aged 15 with an 18 year old called Ray that she isn't really in love with. She strives to keep her studying going and keeps the news from her family as long as she could, relying on her best friend Fay for advice and support but of course eventually she has to tell them and she ends up feeling forced to marry Ray, who tries to make her excited about this marriage but of course her heart isn't really in it. She strives to study and make more of a life for herself but will it be possible for her to achieve all her father had hoped for her, to make her family proud once again? you'll have to watch the movie to see what happens.
- More info./Thoughts/Opinions -
I found myself quite engrossed in the story and I certainly connected with Beverley, who, between the scenes based in the 60s and the present day scenes make you slowly question whether or not to feel sorry for her, given the changes in her relationship with Jason.
The movie is based on a book, an autobiography to be exact and I felt that it certainly reflected the time it was mainly set in very well (ie the 1960s), in that it felt very true to life. It came across as a movie that has had alot of thought put into it, with the different characters all clearly having their own personalities and so on. The main character Beverley is particularly well portrayed by Drew Barrymore and I think most women would find it difficult not to feel for her struggle to pull herself above the drudgery and to, you know, really make something of herself so to speak. The key word to describe the plot of this movie is, undoubtedly, frustration - not frustration in terms of the movie or story being almost good but not quite or confusing in any way at all but frustration in terms of, as I say, being the main emotion felt by Beverley and as we slowly discover more about her and her future becomes more clear, you can see how dedicated she is to try to further her studies and get her head above water.
When I say that its perhaps not clear whether to feel sorry for her, I'm referring to rather late on in the movie, whereby we end up in present time (well roughly 2001 when the movie was made anyway) where Bev and Jason, a teenager now, are travelling with hopes of an important reunion and the discussion that takes place highlights some of Jasons misgivings relating to his mother, indeed what happens (more precisely her behaviour) when this happens results in an angry and frustrated outburst from Jason and it did make me wonder whether perhaps I had seen things from the wrong point of view earlier in the movie - perhaps Beverley is more selfish than I'd thought - or is she? there's also an element of reconciliation but it goes to show that things aren't as simple as they seem - infact far from it, thats the whole story in a sense, that she has had to live quite a frustrating and complicated life, I suppose, where things certainly can't be taken for granted and in a sense perhaps her somewhat over the top behaviour can be excused in part for that.
This is a somewhat upsetting movie in a sense, or perhaps unnerving is a better way to word it, in a few scenes and the one that really comes to mind personally that will have, no doubt, led to different opinions and is a real talking piece (is that a phrase, I think so?) is one particular scene between Beverley and her best friend Fay (who end up both having children, once Beverley found out about her pregnancy (which she discovers on a pivotal day btw) which was before she'd given birth herself, she was really excited exclaiming that they'd both have girls they'd raise together and who would be 'just like us!' out of naivety/blind optimism mainly I'd say) as their sitting in the back garden and Beverley confides in Fay that she feels like the worlds worst mother because she doubts her love for her child and questions herself, like what kind of a normal person would feel this way, what is wrong with me? to which Fay replies, quite quickly, with a really nice analogy to explain these feelings away, which I found quite touching. Its certainly not surprising that she would suffer some degree of post natal depression given her situation, indeed she tries to get out of marrying her husband Ray who, its clear from close to the start of the movie, she knows in her heart isn't who she's really meant to be with but being the 1960s and society being as it was, her family and particularly her father wouldn't hear of her being pregnant and not married, so her wish to have her child out of wedlock was simply not an option. So yes, this is far from a happy Hollywood tale and its not a movie whereby you have the main character striving for something and then you get everything sorted out and the usual Hollywood ending to end it all. Thats not to say that there isn't anything positive that comes out from this movie storywise, its really quite bittersweet though, I'd say. By the end of the movie, Beverley, Jason and us as viewers discover things which make us re-evaluate certain things but I couldn't say that its either a happy nor an entirely sad ending, to be honest.
The title of the movie accounts for the first few scenes, set during a high school party where Beverley is made fun of by one of the popular 'jock's and she gets Ray to defend her, then it ends up with them and a couple of others in said car where presumably Jason is conceived. I suppose the title symbolises or highlights how such a seemingly harmless 'activity' started a rather downward cycle. There are, as well as this, other scenes of importance which feature key conversations between Beverley and Jason and back in the 1960s between Beverley and her father which are held in cars, so I suppose thats where the title comes from, it links back to that.
I felt that Drew Barrymore gave a really good performance in her role as Beverley, her facial expressions and mannerisms being very convincing and it really is difficult to not get drawn into her world - I felt it was quite an absorbing movie, with many different, interesting characters and a story that while rather sad and frustrating, you as a viewer still feel intrigued to keep watching just to see how the movie ends and what type of an outcome it gives you. Due to this, I'm giving it a five star rating, although this isn't to say that its a movie everyone will love as such but I think that its well made and if you know much about the story and/or the book its based on, it wouldn't be too fair to mark it down due to being a bit negative or depressing, if it wasn't then it wouldn't make sense, if you see what I mean.
I should point out that the late Brittany Murphy stars as Beverley's best friend Fay - when I realised it was her, I did think there was something a little poignant about this, some sad poignancy about her portraying an optimistic young woman who was in a similarly depressing situation and who in a sense you could argue had her childhood and bright future cut short, when the actress playing her only recently (about a year or so if I remember right) died at a young age - sad. I think Fay was more happy than Beverley, she did give birth to a girl like she wanted but then its hard to know how she and some others truly feel, given that there's clearly that message of grin and bear it and don't complain, people will look at you badly if you do.
Ray is, of course, the other key character in this movie, being portrayed by Steve Zahn, who is perhaps more well known for his roles in action/comedy movies, so I was a little surprised to find it was him playing such a serious role in a movie such as this (mind you, the action/comedy movies mainly came after this movie was made (in 2001) I suppose). He also gives a good performance as someone who seems to be very much in love with Beverley and optimistic and does his best to provide for her but in time things change and I think thats mainly down to the way that society was (a bit apathetic towards women and family life perhaps) at that time and then as the movie continues to progress, things take another turn and his personality changes. I won't go into much if any detail really as I feel I'm mentioning enough of the plot as it is and I wouldn't like to accidentally spoil the movie, though I don't feel that I've quite done that yet but suffice to say, another good performance is given by Steve.
This is a long movie at just over two hours long and if your a very fidgety person that gets bored particularly quickly then it may not be for you but I wouldn't say that I felt really bored at any point or that I felt it dragged on far too long, so clearly it was quite well made to keep my interest right to the end - I can be quite fidgety and lose interest in some movies but this wasn't so much of a problem in this particular movie.
- Would I Recommend It? -
Yes, if this sounds like a movie that would interest you then I'd definitely recommend that you check it out, particularly if your a Drew Barrymore fan. Its a well made movie, with a story which while rather frustrating and depressing, is well depicted and ends in a way which isn't entirely positive or negative I feel, so its up to you what you take from it - I don't feel like its too 'Hollywood' and its not the sort of movie that you should walk away from feeling suicidal or anything like that either - I think its fair to say that this movie depicts a time when women had less freedom and choice and so you could say that it carries a message and that its a movie that perhaps young women should watch to realise how lucky we are nowadays that young mothers have more support and are more likely to get further in life.
Thanks for reading my review, I hope you found it useful (and that you don't feel I gave away the entire story - there are definitely other key scenes I haven't mentioned, its a long movie). Thanks for any and all r/r/c's, this review was originally posted on Ciao UK.
Riding in Cars with Boys is the upsetting and inspiring story of Beverly Donofrio a young girl with big dreams, desperate to get out of her small town and to make something of herself, she has more than just a flare for writing and is far advanced intellectually to her peers. She has promised herself that she will fall in love and everything will just fit into place, she will have the job of her dreams and live happily ever after
But when she becomes pregnant at fifteen and is forced into a loveless marriage with the father of her child, her ambitious dreams are stifled. She now lives in a wooden hut, with no money, no career aspects and a poor defenceless baby to bring up in this big cruel world. Her family has disowned her, as have her friends and Ray (her husband) is suffering from heroine addiction and refuses to quit. This is the remarkable story of how Beverly managed to stay intact and bring her young son up to be a responsible member of society.
The main reason that Riding in Cars with Boys works is because it is a fascinating and tender insight into parental responsibility and parent/child relationships, the whole film explores how our guardian's actions can directly affect our capacity to love and deal with our own offspring in tough situations. As we get to see insights into Beverly's own childhood as well as her being a mother it is obvious and interesting to see how she approaches parenting and how different it is to her own rather deluded upbringing, which was plagued by false security and undisguised pain.
Another thing that enjoyed about Riding In cars With Boys, was that it dealt with serious issues such as heroine addiction, unrealised dreams, teenage pregnancy in a time and location were such things hardly ever happened and were largely frowned upon and projecting your inner fears onto your child in a very down to earth, realistic and non melodramatic way. It doesn't assume that its audience needs over the top emotional scenes to get a reaction and just allows the emotion to bubble under the surface occasionally leaking out with great writing and acting.
This is by far Drew Barrymore's best performance, bar none. She inhabits the intricate character of Beverly with a gritty determination and an extreme talent, this is one of the only roles I have seen Drew in (and I think I have seen all her movies) which I thought she actually, truly came into her own, she wasn't very likeable (like she normally is) at times, which adds another layer to her portrayal of this woman, she didn't feel the need to be her usually lovely self, but pushed her vast talent to the limit, there really was a stunning sense of helplessness radiating from her, and I couldn't help but be amazed at the accuracy and authenticity of her performance. She exudes a phenomenal amount of both depth and range, pulling this whole production together, with a driving, funny, sad and affectionate performance that may just leave the biggest mark of the whole film, long after the credits roll.
All the supporting actors also do more than decent jobs, Brittany Murphy has a strange likeability about her and surprisingly accurate comic timing and James Wood throws in a quietly heartbreaking and occasionally funny turn, but one performance that I wasn't too keen on was that of Steve Zahn's who tried to make his drug addicted character work, but I just felt too forced and there was a distinct lack of any real determination to the role.
Adapted from the hit book Riding in Cars with Boys: Confessions Of A Bad Girl Who Makes Good, an autobiography authored by Beverly Donofrio, charting her troubled life, Morgan Ward's screenplay is at best amazing, worst rather clichéd and slow. It is this large imbalance that regularly threw me off, I thought the comedy was good, and the drama even better, but together I don't think that they mixed very well, which made both look at times rather forced, when it should of flowed rather easily. But you have got to respect something that explores three different interesting relationships with the same amount of passion courage and honesty.
Director Penny Marshall does her best, and exceeds in nearly all areas of this production, except the huge pacing problems, this film doesn't concentrates on the important areas enough and too much on the aspects of the story that weren't particularly compelling or that interesting. The visual style of Riding in Cars with Boys is nice and appropriately glossy, and the direction allows all the performances to be above average, the emotional scenes are dealt with in a sensitive, mature and interesting manner.
The soundtrack to this film is many just nondescript chilled out tunes that main purpose is to enhance the emotional scenes. But as this film is set in three different decades, there are things like I Got You Babe - Sonny & Cher and One Fine Day - The Chiffons for Beverly's earlier life and such cheese classics as. Girls Just Want To Have Fun - Cyndi Lauper for some of her later experiences.
I just felt that Riding in Cars could have been so much more than this rather good, film. The performances were there, so was the eternally interesting and telling story, but I just felt that it never really got going that much, due to lapses in time.
Overall, I did enjoy Riding in Cars with Boys; I thought it was a very interesting look into the responsibilities of parents, and how powerful they really are. I think it is brave to explore three different relationships each with the same intensity; I also liked the serious, problematic issues that were dealt with in the film, without falling into the trap of being melodramatic. But the most pleasant surprise of all was Drew Barrymore astoundingly deep and intelligent performance as Beverly Donofrio. This film isn't without it's flaws though, there are rather large gaps in logic and time, which hinder rather than speed the pace up (which is what I think it intended to do) which is ironic as the main problem of this production is the pace, it is a times to slow and at others too fast.
Beverly: I promise from now on I'm going to be more attentive. DO you know what attentive means?
Jason (Age 6): No.
Beverly: OK. Do you know what responsible means?
Jason (Age 6): No.
[drops him back into hot tub]
Beverly: Damn! I should've read to you more.
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Riding In Cars With Boys is a film that I didn?t have any real interest in seeing. It?s really a chick flick on the surface but I like Drew Barrymore and decided to catch a recent showing on Sky. The film is based on the book and life of Beverly D?Onofrio. At the age of 15 she found herself pregnant by a local high school dropout. Beverly had to turn her back on a promising education, marry the father of her child and generally live the following years as a struggle with parenthood and life in general. This film could have gone a number of ways. It would have been easy to go down the TV Movie route and make a saccharine portrayal of a hard life. Thankfully the film steers clear of this although I got the feeling that perhaps the story on screen wasn?t as bleak as the real one. Things start well with a nice portrayal of American life in 1968, Barrymore can certainly play younger than her age and she?s well supported by the likes of James Woods and Brittany Murphy. I had a hard time buying Barrymore as an older woman with a son close to twenty but then Barrymore is in her thirties as was D?Onofrio. If you can get past this then you?re bound to get more out of the film. The acting in the film is the real strength. Barrymore is actually quite good in a serious role and I can?t think of anyone else who could portray the age without looking caked in make-up. The real standout is Steve Zahn as Ray, the dropout who gets Beverly pregnant. He creates a flawed man who tries his best but can never be a real father. The later scenes where he meets his son for the first time in years are great. My problem with the film was that at times things just seemed a little too easy. Some of the things that Beverly does are quite horrible yet seem to be played for laughs, it?s a nervous reaction by the audience in turn. Other times see the heart strings being pulled a little too much from interaction between Beverly and her son. Also the scenes in later life, wh
ich essentially narrate the story, aren?t really necessary. Director Penny Marshall creates a diverting and entertaining two hours without really soaring to the heights that perhaps the film could have achieved, It has some nice cinematography and score etc but I just get the feeling it?s a film that probably doesn?t come anywhere near the book.
The year is 1968, and Bev (Drew Barrymore) finds herself pregnant. She is only 15 years old. The father of the child is Ray (Steve Zahn). Bev doesn?t want to get married, but after she told her parents that she was pregnant they were all ashamed and upset. They couldn?t have their teen daughter having a child out of wedlock; so to keep their family from the embarrassment Bev said she would marry Ray. At the wedding Bev is sitting all alone at her bridal table. Her new husband is off drinking it up with his high school friends, and her family is off at their own tables talking among each other. Finally Bev?s father gives a toast. Bev thought for sure he was going to say something nice about her since she was always daddy?s little girl. Well of course that didn?t happen, and Bev was very upset and sad. Well her best friend Fay (Brittany Murphy) decided she would get up and say a toast, she said some nice things about Bev and then she gave some rather shocking news herself. She told everyone that if they were not going to talk to Bev because she was pregnant then they didn?t have to talk to her either because she was also pregnant. Bev was happy about the news since they were life long best friends, and now they were going to have children together and be married. She wasn?t going to be the only one who was missing out on her future. The two of them said they would both have girls and they would grow up together and be just like them (I don?t think that was such a good idea though). Finally the day approved and she gave birth. No it wasn?t a daughter like she wanted. Bev couldn?t believe she had given birth to a son, she was crying and saying that the baby wasn?t hers. As for Fay she did have a daughter. The two friends stayed together through thick and thin. Fay?s mother really didn?t like Bev and she was always nasty to her, but that was ok cause as long as her and Fay was together nothing to stop the two of them. After several years Bev went to nig
ht school and tried to better her life, she wanted something better for her son instead of what they had. Ray her husband was into drugs now and drinking all the time. He never worked that often and his son was very close to him. Bev didn?t pay to much attention to her son, she kind of left him on the outside and thought of herself and what she wanted. She kind of blamed her son for the reason she wasn?t in college and that she had such a bad life. So finally she kicked Ray to the curb and her son and her went on with life with out him. Life was not good for the two of them. Bev and Fay found themselves cooking weed (dope) in their oven to earn money. They would leave their children outside in winter alone while they sat together in the house cooking their weed. Well when Bev?s son seen his grandfather he told him that his mom was inside cooking weed in the stove. Bev and Fay were arrested, but left go. Fay?s parents told her that if she didn?t leave the state and move in with her brother and never see Bev again that they would disown her and not help her anymore. So Fay had to say goodbye to her dear best friend. This was hard for Bev, and from then on things went down. Conclusion Wow I don?t want to go into any more detail about this movie or else I will give it all away. I wont tell you how things end up with all them, but I will say that Drew Barrymore played an awesome role and she done a fantastic job. She really made you believe that she was a young girl who was in a crisis and then married and things went wrong. I?m sure some people can relate to Bev in this movie. Married young, having a child, and having a spouse that didn?t work and who drank and done drugs and a son who you felt ruined your future. The movie goes from past to present every now and then. It show?s Bev?s son and how he is thinking back to his life growing up and how he spent all his time with his mother and how she occupied his life and he done what ever she
asked of him. The endings is cool, and wait till you find out that Bev?s son is in love with. I?m sure you can guess though. The movie was so funny, yet sad in some parts. I really enjoyed this movie, and would watch it again.
Riding in Cars with Boys is a cautionary autobiographical tale of the impact that a wrong decision has on the hopes and dreams of a young girl and the way in which that is reflected in her relationships with the important people in her life. I saw this film for 2 reasons. Firstly I was on a 5 hour flight and it helps to pass the time. Secondly, as the plane was a funky 777 with seat-back TV screens, I had a choice of films and plumped for this one coz I find Drew Barrymore incredibly sexy! But on with the op..... The story unfolds as a series of flashbacks during a car journey that the protagonist takes with her son on the way to sort out an issue regarding the publishing of her story. Barrymore plays Bev, a typical American kid growing up in a small town in a Catholic nuclear family and doing all the things that kids do as adolescents. She is an exceptionally bright child with a talent for writing and this is made clear to us early on in the story. Her idyllic family life is destroyed when she gets pregnant by Ray (Steve Zahn), who whilst 'cool' is definitely the wrong type. He proposes marriage and she accepts under pressure from her family (particularly her Police Chief father played by James Woods) who clearly consider the whole thing to be a disaster. The story follows Bev's major relationships - firstly that which she has with Ray who degenerates from drunken waster to heroin addict before ultimately redeeming himself. Far more important is her relationship with her son Jason, played by various actors as he grows up. Jason is a witness whilst a child to the irresonpibility of his father who is never around, whilst at the same time his mother plays the 'bad cop', making him do all the things that a child hates doing. He has to do various tasks which are generally not those of a child to do and this places pressure on the relationship. The relationship with her old fashioned fath
er is difficult. It is clear that he considers her husband to be a moron, however his Catholic background means that he believes that his daughter should stick with him through thick and thin. Bev's best friend Fay, supports her through her various crises, also has a child as a teenager who in turn becomes Jason's best friend. We are witnesses to Bev's struggle to live her dreams, despite the fact that she has to cope with bringing up Jason with no help from Ray. The impact that her struggle to better herself has on her relationship with Ray and ultimately with Jason is explored through the road trip upon which the flashbacks are painted. Ultimately, the fact that the film has been made is eveidence that Bev's dreams were fulfilled but at what cost to her relationship with her son? Unfortunately this is one issue which is not sufficiently dealt with. All in all however this is a pleasant enough movie, dealing with important issues without preaching.