Riding in Cars With Boys (2001)


Penny Marshall directs Drew Barrymore, Steve Zahn and Brittany Murphy in this bittersweet true story of a teen mother facing rejection and disappointment throughout the sixties. 

A quite harsh drama sugarcoated with the comedy acting of overly-likeable performers. It makes for an imbalanced experience. You prefer it when the interactions are sitcommy and colourful, yet the film mines for weird unsettling energies that more ‘serious’ fare often miss when they goes this dark. When Zahn faces up to the fall out of his drug addiction or Barrymore is sidelined at her own wedding or the child is put in peril, it incites an uncomfortably emotive response from the viewer. It isn’t meant to be this hard… life sure, but not a Drew Barrymore movie. The end product is certainly uneven and often a little unsatisfying but has enough strong moments to pad out the quality. Brittany Murphy’s maid of honour speech, Zahn’s holding onto the baby tooth and a sing song car ride with Dad. Feelgood delights in a surprisingly, unsympathetic melodrama.


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