"Riding in Cars with Boys"--flat-out lousy

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mark Pfeiffer, Oct 16, 2001.

  1. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    Well, they can't say that the trailer is false advertising. The trailer made me want to puke; I thought the film looked that bad based upon it.
    Still, I had managed to avoid it since Hearts in Atlantis, and there's always hope that the film about to unspool before you will be entertaining.
    I don't judge based on preconceptions (as, for example, I'm embarrassed to admit that I sort of liked On the Line--yes, the movie with a couple of the guys from N Sync. It works better than Serendipity at a similar premise, but that's something altogether different). So I had an open mind when I went to see it this morning...
    What an awful piece of tripe. My best guess is that this is supposed to be Drew Barrymore's "serious" film to get her name mentioned as an Oscar contender. I've liked what she's done in her "comeback" (Home Fries, Ever After, Never Been Kissed, and yes Charlie's Angels), but yow, this is a miss by a continent.
    The film is based on a true story (and adapted from a book). Barrymore is Beverly D'Onofrio, a smart teenager who gets pregnant at 15. Her best friend also is pregnant, which gives her someone to experience the trials and tribulations with.
    Beverly feels that she has been cheated in life. She may not go to college or go on to be some great writer. She seems to hold a grudge against her son because he has ruined her dreams.
    This gets precisely to one of the major problems with the films. Beverly is completely unsympathetic and unlikable. She is a bad mother. She is selfish, self-centered, and terribly immature. When the nurse brings her the baby and tells her its a boy, she insists she had a girl and doesn't really want to take him. This is played for laughs, but there's nothing remotely funny about it. Nearly every time Beverly gets a chance to redeem herself in the audience's eyes, she makes the wrong decision. Ha ha.
    The whole sitcom-y approach is nauseating. The goofy comedy could have come straight from one of Barrymore's other films (although director Penny Marshall likely is to blame for some, if not most, of this). There's a scene where she dances for a son to a song about a dancing pig, and I thought, you know, her performance is like watching a dancing bear. Look at how silly she can be. Look at the unexpected things she does.
    Barrymore can't be entirely at fault, and I'm sure she'll rebound from this disaster. While an occasional dramatic role isn't a bad choice, this was a case of being entirely wrong for the part or the part being entirely wrong regardless of who played it. (I tend to think the part would have been a failure for anyone, but Barrymore doesn't bring any gravitas or reality to it.) The facile emotions and hackneyed screenplay and direction don't help.
    And I think it's a bad title too... D-
     
  2. Kevin Leonard

    Kevin Leonard Supporting Actor

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    Well, I'm gonna get this question in before this is designated the official review thread and my query gets deleted.
    Mark, that's a shame about the movie. It looked halfway decent. You mentioned Barrymore, but what about Brittany Murphy, Steve Zahn, James Woods, et all? Did they make the film an easier experience?
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  3. Inspector Hammer!

    Inspector Hammer! Executive Producer

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    I don't know what it is about Drew Barrymoore these days, but has anyone else noticed that she always sounds like she's about to cry when she speaks? Just an observation. And yes, this movie looks horrendous.
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  4. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    Kevin,
    Not necessarily. Barrymore's character dominates, and there's plenty of shouting in thick East Coast accents (sounds like Brooklyn to me, although most takes place in Connecticut) that just grates.
    I think a perfect example of how shabby this film is in the trailer. A teenage Beverly practices telling her parents she is pregnant. Her friend (played by Murphy) takes the role of the parents. They do this on a busy street in the town. Murphy's character shrieks, "My daughter's a tramp! My daughter's a tramp!" while aghast townsfolk gasp and cover the ears of children. It's a cheap sitcom tactic that is painfully unfunny. It's emblematic of the rest of the film.
    Woods is barely in this, although his character is grounded. I liked Murphy's character more, but in comparison to Beverly, it's really no contest. Zahn isn't bad. The film was like two hours of finger nails scraping a blackboard.
     
  5. Brad_W

    Brad_W Screenwriter

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    I think I really did puke when I saw the trailer for this. And why is someone like James Woods (underrated actor with genius I.Q. [I think he was going to be some sorta scientist before he became an actor]) in this movie. Funny thing about him, I saw him on some late night talk show (Leno, I think) and he was simply hitting on the actress sitting next to him the entire time. God he's funny.

    Anyway, I hate movies like these. I don't think they're funny at all. And who is the target audience for this type of movie? Teenagers? Women? Early twenty-somethings who still live with their parents, but don't go to college and wonder what really would happen if they/significant other happened to get pregnate? Sorry, I went on a rant there for a second. My point is that this type of movie has been done so much that who really wants to see it? And Drew "I married Tom Green in secret when really the secret is why I married him" Barrymore is a boring actress to watch (except in E.T.). Whoops, I think I forgot to take my medicine. I'll cool down. And all this over a movie I haven't even seen!

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    [Edited last by Brad_W on October 17, 2001 at 09:21 AM]
     
  6. Craig Chatterton

    Craig Chatterton Stunt Coordinator

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  7. Brad_W

    Brad_W Screenwriter

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  8. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    A little more on the ALWAYS outstanding James Woods. IIRC, he also got a 1500+ on his SATs (back when they were HARD), and has been known to spend time with young, attractive actresses (another indication of intelligence - not really). He is also a legend in Hollywood for the size of his "other brain." How this fits into RICWB is meaningless, but fun.
    Take care,
    Chuck
     

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