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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon October 21, 2001
This was a great movie. Drew Barrymore taps into a deeper part of herself to provide a very satisfying, full performance which puts her into a new league as an actress. Think Susan Sarandon.
There are plenty of touching moments in this film based on a true story, but what I liked was the good feeling that stayed with me when I left.
It's a very well written script with a simple story, which if poorly done would be predictable and formulaic. But Penny Marshall has done a great job working with great actors and this is one movie worth seeing. It's fun to walk out of a theater and hear lots of other people saying "This was really good."
Also, it's nice to see a movie where the trailer does not give away the best parts of the story. That's because this story is bigger than little scenes. it builds and deepens as you get to know and love the characters, even the losers.
James Woods, Playing the father does a great job and so does Sara Gilbert (the teenaged faux femme fatale from American Beauty.)
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 2005
This movie is excellent, immediately after watching it, I went online and bought the book for dead cheap. That's how good this movie is, you'll want to find out more about Beverley Donofrio, who wrote the book, and helped with the movie too.

Drew Barrymore is an excellent actress, and she played the part of 'Bev' over a 20 year period really well. Although Drew makes a very doubtful 15/16 year old, she's more convincing throughout the rest of the movie. The movie is just one big laugh/cry, and you'll laugh at Steve Zahn's zany performance and cry at all the sad bits.

Brittany Murphy also appears as Bev's best friend 'Fay' who also manages to get pregnant at the same time, and ends up a single mom. Brittany can really turn her hand at anything, and comes out with some hilarious lines. The one that sticks in everyone's memory is when she pretends to be Bev's parents when she confesses she's pregnant! "My daughter's a tramp!" During one of the scenes with Bev and Fay "The End of the World" is playing. This is the song that Brittany Murphy's character has playing during a key moment in Girl, Interrupted. The wedding scene was shot over a two day period, which required Brittany to cry the entire time. The first take was the one used in the film. It would have been nice for Brittany to appear towards the end of the movie, particularly as Jason is running off to be with Amelia. Instead, she just gets a mention.

I wasn't particularly fussed about Adam Garcia playing Bev's 20 year old son, Jason in this. He was quite wrong for the part, considering he looks a lot older than the 20 year old he was supposed to be playing. But what was funny was the fact that Adam (who was 27 playing a 20 year old) was actually 2 years older than Drew (who was 25 playing a 35 year old) who played his mother! How weird is that!

I can't wait to read about Beverley's experiences in the book. Apparently, only some ideas were used from the book - and they made Bev fall pregnant at 15, instead of 17 as it is in the book. The real life Beverly has a master's degree in creative writing. Drew is a high school dropout. The real Beverly and Jason D'Onofrio appear in the movie as guests at Beverly's wedding. They can be seen sitting directly behind Barrymore in the wedding scene. Apparently, what also is said in the book is that Beverly's parents did not force her to get married, they encouraged her to live with them so they could help support the baby instead of getting married. In the book, her parents were NOT supportive of her dream to go to college, which was a big part of the book that was left out. It was also Beverly's excuse for getting pregnant.

Look out for Maggie Gyllenhaal in a blink-and-you'll-miss-her scene as Jason's girlfriend, Amelia, who was Fay's daughter; Desmond Harrington as Bobby and Logan Lerman as Jason (Age 8), who was also in The Butterfly Effect playing Evan at 7.

At the end of the movie, and in parts throughout, it shows that Bev is now 36, and has written a book about her experiences. However, we never get to see how she managed to do this, and break away from all the bad things, which would have been good to see.

This movie is getting some bad reviews, although I wouldn't believe them. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, sure, but guys, if you're gonna complain just cos your girlfriend dragged you to see this (like one reviewer has said) don't say that in the review. Believe me, you'll be single before you know it. Watch this movie.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon April 29, 2002
Remind me (again) not to read too many reviews of movies before I see them myself. After reading the "critics" I was expecting a rather cheesy tear-jerker with no heart or substance. Wrong, wrong, wrong...this one was a pleasant surprise, start to finish, and a totally charming movie.
Based on the book of the same title, Riding in Cars with Boys is both heart-rending and humorous. Drew Barrymore plays Beverly Donofrio, a youmg woman who becomes pregnant at 15 and is forced to live a life far different than what she'd hoped (or what her parents had hoped). James Woods is totally believable as her father, a man who tells Beverly she "broke his heart" when she became pregnant.
But the real surprise here is the focus of the movie. Although supposedly the story of Beverly, the events are told from the point of view of her son and it is clear that her failures as a parent form much of the basis for this film. She is less than an ideal parent, resentful of her son's intrustion into her life and forced to cope with more than her share of hardships (her husband is a drug addict).
As you can probably tell by now, this isn't exactly a family movie, so leave the kids at home. Gritty at times but also touching, too. Most of all, completely honest and believable.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2004
I honestly wasn't expecting to be totally blown away by this movie. It didn't create much hype in theaters, and I only rented it now for two reasons - a friend recommended it, and I'm a fan of Drew Barrymore, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did, as I absolutely loved it. Based on the life of Beverly Donofrio, as written in her memoir (which I haven't read, and cannot compare the movie to), this film tells the story of a girl who gets pregnant at the age of fifteen. Through a series of flashbacks and narration by Donofrio's adult son, we see her struggle to raise her child while still growing up herself. She is determined to make a life for herself against all odds. And oh what odds they are!
Guilted by her father into marrying the boyfriend who knocked her up, Beverly finds herself with a loving yet dim-bulb husband. He drinks excessively, routinely forgets things he should have remembered, shows up for work only when he feels like it, and ultimately succumbs to a drug addiction. Meanwhile, Beverly is estranged from her own parents, particularly her father, and is all alone save for her one loyal best friend. And when her friend is forced to move away, Beverly has only her son. And she was certainly not the best of mothers. When the tag line says "She did everything wrong," it's no joke. But somehow the two of them are able to keep going, and Donofrio's story turns into one of the most inspirational and heartwarming I have ever seen.
The entire cast was excellent, but Drew Barrymore was simply amazing. She must portray Beverly from the age of fifteen all the way up through thirty-six (a decade younger and a decade older than Barrymore herself at the time), and she does it beautifully. At each stage of the film, she nails down all the little nuances that define that partcular age. I think this is one of Barrymore's very best performances. Brittany Murphy also shines as Faye, Beverly's best friend. The two of them are a perfect match. Steve Zahn does an exceptional job as Ray, the husband. He manages to add a great sensitivity to his otherwise deadbeat character. Adam Garcia turns in a moving performance as the grown son, and James Woods does an excellent job as the father who truly does love the daughter who so disappointed him.
The whole film has a great realism to it that is touching. These are real people. They have flaws, and make mistakes. Boy do they make mistakes! But we can relate to them, because we've all made mistakes. Donofrio's ability to keep going, to pick herself up and keep striding forward until she makes something of her life is truly inspirational. And not only that, but there is a real humor to the film. Through all her mistakes, Donofrio is able to laugh at the absurdity of it all, and I think this is a large part of what got her through.
The DVD also has some nice extra features. In addition to audio commentary by Drew Barrymore, there is an HBO "Making Of" featurette in which we meet the real Donofrio and learn how her story was transfered onto film, and are given further insight into Donofrio's own life. There are also featurettes on the cars in the movie, the set for the house where Beverly and her son lived, and Donofrio's relationship with her son, as well as the theatrical trailers. This is a great story, and is executed to perfection. Even the soundtrack adds depth and feeling to the film. I'd highly recommend the movie to anyone, and intend to add it to my own collection.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2002
The choices we make, the paths we choose and the way we live with those decisions is what makes up this thing called Life; and there are two ways to go at that point-- face up to what has happened-- what you've done-- and make the most of it, or spend the rest of your life feeling sorry for yourself and bemoaning the fact that "they" were the ones responsible for where you ended up. And in "Riding In Cars With Boys," directed by Penny Marshall, Drew Barrymore plays a young woman who walks that constantly narrowing fence of decision, slips up (as so many of us do!) and spends the rest of her life dealing with it. The burning question: Where will she place the blame; on herself? Or on someone else--anyone-- perhaps even an innocent party, in an attempt to transfer that burden of lost hopes and dreams? Ultimately, it becomes a matter of how you deal with the next decision in the wake of a bad one, which in the final analysis is the most important; because therein lies the true nature of one's character.
Fifteen-year-old Beverly (Barrymore) is a smart kid, with aspirations of one day attending NYU and becoming a writer. But it's 1965, she's not exactly the center of popularity and she has a crush on one of the varsity jocks who, of course, doesn't know she's alive. But at a party one night, she musters up the courage to approach him; suffice to say, it does not go well. As fate would have it, however (and, oh, fate will have it's way!), a drop-out named Ray (Steve Zahn) is on hand, sees what's happening and becomes her champion for the night. And it's the night that changes her life forever. As Pink Floyd once said, "One slip, and down the hole we fall--" And the real question becomes, once you're down that hole, what are you going to do about it?
From a screenplay by Morgan Upton Ward, adapted from the novel "Riding In Cars With Boys," by Beverly D'Onofrio, Penny Marshall delivers an affecting, and often poignant drama that addresses, not only the choices with which Beverly was faced, but makes a penetrating observation about the generation and era that so affected her decisions, as well. The reaction of her police officer father, Leonard (James Woods), to her dilemma, for example, gives a context to the story that is most telling. And it points up how so often "where" you are and "when" you are makes all the difference in the world, as far as how and why decisions are made, and moreover, how those decisions are perceived by others. Marshall does an excellent job of presenting Beverly's story, lending a subtle, objective perspective to it that is effective and thought provoking. She captures the period extremely well, sets a good pace and knows how to extract the kind of performances from her actors that makes it all work. Additionally, most of the action takes place in the `60s, but is being viewed from 1986, and Marshall makes the transitions between the two time periods flawless.
As Beverly, Drew Barrymore gives one of her best performances ever, creating a three dimensional character in which she captures and successfully conveys all the complexities of the individual, as well as the situations in which she finds herself. She presents Beverly as intelligent, as a young woman coping with the consequences of a situation brought about by her own design who accepts the responsibility of her own actions, but who struggles against consciously placing the blame on others-- which is a quite natural tenet of human nature. And the fact that Barrymore does not play her as a victim is a key element in the success of this film; it adds a depth to the character that makes Beverly entirely real and convincing. It's a performance shaded with subtle tone and nuance, and most importantly, Barrymore fine tunes the various emotional levels of her character to a perfect pitch, hitting just the right note in any given situation, and it makes the story credible, and what she does believable.
Also rising to the occasion with a terrific, memorable performance is Steve Zahn, as the hapless Ray. This is a character who, even though based on a real person, could have easily fallen into caricature; but Zahn makes him real by getting into his skin and using the little things-- a glance, an expression, a reaction-- that gives Ray that necessary depth to make him convincing. This is a guy you can feel for without necessarily liking; a guy you can admire for his innate humanness, but hate for his very human flaws. It's a performance that is especially effective in the quiet, reflective moments, when you can actually see-- almost feel-- Ray's diminished mental capacity. You can see it in his eyes; that pitiful, hopeless attempt to process information, but failing miserably because it is simply beyond the capacity of the facilities with which he was born. And by establishing that cerebral chasm that exists between Ray and Beverly, it illuminates their basic differences and puts their whole situation-- especially Beverly's-- into succinct perspective. And Zahn's performance is in no small part responsible for bringing that contrast to light, and making it work.
Also turning in noteworthy performances are Adam Garcia, as Jason, and Brittany Murphy, as Beverly's best friend, Fay. The additional supporting cast includes Lorraine Bracco (Theresa D'Onofrio), Rosie Perez (Shirley), Peter Facinelli (Tommy), Sara Gilbert (Christina) and Jordan Gelber (Kevin). An insightful film that says much about individual capacity and the tenacity of the human spirit, "Riding In Cars With Boys" is well crafted and delivered entertainment that will be a transporting experience for some, while perhaps providing some guidance and inspiration to others. In the end, it's a thoughtful, heart-felt meditation on life; a gift to all of us through the magic of the movies.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2002
I waited forever for this movie to be released to DVD. It was more than worth the wait. Penny Marshall has done it again, directing a film that struck all the right cords in me...much like the movie "Where the Heart Is" ( A masterpiece itself-not to be missed).
Drew Barrymore plays Beverly, a fifteen year old who spoils her father's (James Wood) life plan to have a perfect family by getting knocked up at the age of 15. While her family ponders what to "do" with her, Beverly has a plan already in formation(She IS a talented and smart girl after all). She will get a job, finish high school, and go to college. Her parents don't want a family crisis or controversy, so they convince her to marry the father of her child instead(Steve Zahn), who is a washed-up drip of a loser, yet a willing father and husband. Bev agrees, not wanting to cause her family any more grief.
While this movie is meant to be dramatic, it offers some outright laughs during very intense scenes. At Beverly's wedding (she wears pink) her best friend Fran (The VERY talented Brittany Murphy from "Girl Interupted" and "Don't Say a Word") announces to the wedding crowd that she is also pregnant. Could Bev's father have a worse nightmare?
Fran and Bev buddy up, sticking together through life's "What have I done?" moments...missing out on the prom, watching their friends go off to college, having babies together, and doing anything they can to make money and leave their small town. They quickly realize their dreams of each giving birth to two girls( which they hope will grow up and be just like them), two pretty houses, and being best friends forever is not quite reality when there is no money, wandering husbands, and your water breaks. "How gross Mom!" Bev shouts as real life intervenes. -real life- Take 1.
Drew plays a magnificent roll as a young mother who's character spans 20 years from the birth of her son. She is a convincing actress at every age. While she may be a self-admitted irresponsible parent and make terrible life choices through the years, she is a good mother..despite the fact that she blames everyone, including her son for her misfortunes.
I was particularly moved by the ending to this movie. The "ride" getting there is just as poignant as you follow Bev's life from a young girl to a mature woman striving to be a great writer and publish her personal memoirs titled appropriately "Riding in Cars With Boys". A perfect title for a woman who had life changing experiences everytime she did ride in a car with the men in her life. I highly recommend this film to all. I will go as far and say that it is also a must-own for anyone that appreciates a 'see-it-more-than-once' flick.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2004
Riding in Cars With Boys, is a great movie directed by Penny Marshall. Drew Barrymore plays the main character, Beverly Donofrio. She is a very spunky little girl who is dying to grow up. James Wood plays Beverly's conservative but loving father and the town's police chief.
When she finally is old enough, she falls for a popular jock that has no interest in her. She is devastated and heart broken over this that she falls for the next guy she meets. Her involvement with him lands her pregnant. Trying to make the right choice she decides to have the baby. Her family then insists that she marry the guy. She doesn't want to marry him and has a very miserable wedding.
Beverly is then a very unhappy teenage mother with a drug-addicted husband who blames her baby boy for the terrible life that she has. The story shows the happy, terrible and disappointing times in their lives. This movie is based on what happens when you make the right and the wrong choices. It shows how the different relationships in your life can influence the choices that you make.
I feel this is a great drama-comedy to watch, especially to all the young girls who are just dying to grow up.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2005
This movie had me crying the entire time. It was supposed to be funny at times, but I really only laughed twice. I didn't completely like any of the characters. Bev was a self centered, horrible mother, but she has dreams and clings to them. Ray is a bad husband, an idiot, and addicted to drugs. But he is sweet and loves his family. Jason is troubled, but he has every right to be.

So why do I give it four stars? First of all, the entire crew's performance (excluding Jason) was incredible. Bev and Ray were especially excellent. The story was believable. It wasn't at all sugar-coated, and I think that's rare in a movie. I liked the fact that Bev retained her 'it's all about me' attitude throughout the whole thing. I hated her for it, but it was realistic. I wasn't bored once during the entire film. And it has a message to it.

This is a perfect movie to see if you're in the right mood for it. You won't be able to watch it without shedding a tear.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2002
This wonderful movie by Director Penny Marshall asks the question: Are parents to blame for the wrong choices of their children?
"Riding in Cars with Boys" involves wrong and right choices. Because the class "Mr. Popular" insults the class "live wire" consolation is given by the class "drop-out" and the "live-wire", aptly played by Drew Barrymore is "knocked up." What do you do about that in the late 1960's. You marry the class "drop out" and deal with the results usually unhappily.
The results entail about 20 years of troubles, joys, disappointments, triumphs, and growing up experiences. This true story does not fail to satisfy. Barrymore is good, but so is James Woods as her caring but sometimes insensitive father (who may have saved himself a pile of troubles if he had just bought that bra she wanted for Christmas when she was 13.)
It spans the live of Beverly Donofrio from age 15 to age 35. Drew Barrymore does a very good performance at all ages. I've never seen any of her other work compare to this performance.
What we have here is a comedy-drama about relationships between parents and child and parent as child and child and best friends too. Touching and tender the movie is just right to bring back hilarious and not so funny memories of what it is like to and what happens to girls who go around, "Riding in Cars with Boys." and, too, what it is like and what happens to boys who go aound "Riding in Cars with... (you get the picture).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2011
The characters (except for Donofrio) are compelling and endearing. But I'm troubled by the way Donofrio is viewed by women as something of a hero for putting her ambition ahead of her child. He's not a baby; he's a person. I can't help wondering how her son feels that his mother didn't want him from the start, continually made it clear that he was in the way, that her was a bother, a burden, an obstacle for her and made life ever so much harder for her. She had to manage him, put up with him and basically get over him so she could pursue self-actualization in New York. She's one of the most narcissistic characters I've seen in film.

Raising her son was an awesome responsibility. She was caring for, teaching and shaping a human being who would then be a huge influence on many, many others whose lives he has touched and will touch during his own lifetime, not to mention how he raises his own children, and the lives they'll touch. His worldview, his sense of self, of society, of honor, of manhood, of responsibility, and of relationship to others all come from his mother. But her focus seemed to be on feeling sorry for herself. As the son's character says in the movie, "everything happens to her, not anyone else." As she's discussing whether to go to California with a former classmate, she says she wishes she wasn't smart, so that she would be satisfied "being here". How insulting to those who are smart enough to realize how important it is to help a person grow up well.

I encourage everyone who can to go to college, and I'm glad that Beverly kept trying, but it seems to be that her son was not as important to her as her own self image and ambition. How sad for him. And for her. To think what she missed out on during those years. I agree with those reviewers who view this as a cautionary tale, not only for urging girls not to seek love by sleeping around, but also for urging young mothers to think hard about what's really important, and to embrace their role as motherhood, not to resent it.
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