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Laramie Movie Scope:
Riding in Cars With Boys

An almost European drama

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 30, 2002 -- "Riding in Cars With Boys" is a drama that looks suspiciously like a European kind of movie, but it was made in the good old U S of A. The slice-of-life story is based on the autobiographical book of the same name by Beverly D'Onofrio. The film is buoyed by some excellent performances.

Drew Barrymore of "Charlie's Angels" stars as Beverly Ann D'Onofrio, a promising writer whose career is sidetracked when she becomes pregnant at age 15 and marries a drug addict Raymond 'Ray' Haseck (powerfully played by Steve Zahn of "Joy Ride"). Her mainstay in her early years is her best friend, Farina 'Fay' Forrester (well played by Brittany Murphy of "Don't Say a Word"). D'Onofrio's stern police officer father, Leonard (James Woods of "Scary Movie 2") is bitter with disappointment, but her mother, Eileen (Lorraine Bracco of "The Sopranos" TV show) is more supportive.

Much of the story is told in flashbacks to the 1960's and 1970's as D'Onofrio and her 20-something son, Jason (Adam Garcia of "Coyote Ugly") ride together on a fateful trip involving her book. Barrymore turns in a top-notch performance in a very emotional role, while Zahn is outstanding as the good-hearted, but weak husband. All the supporting performances are strong. This film has some of the best acting I've seen all year (2001) outside of "In The Bedroom." Director Penny Marshall ("Renaissance Man") doesn't get a chance to direct films nearly as often as she deserves to, but when she does, she makes the most of her opportunities, as she does here. Marshall is one of the best directors around. If there was equal opportunity for women in show business, everyone would know how good she really is. What Marshall does in this film is to keep the drama from getting too melodramatic, and to put D'Onofrio's perceived suffering in just the right cinematic perspective. She also adds just the right touch of humor.

The reason I think this looks like a European movie is that many of the characters are ordinary people. American films tend to be about extraordinary people. Most of these characters, with the possible exception of Beverly D'Onofrio, are the kind of people that just about everyone knows. Even Beverly is not all that unusual. There are lots of aspiring writers out there. Very few have the determination to overcome obstacles like she does, however. There are no explosions, no random violence, no shootings, no car chases, none of the hyper stuff you see in most Hollywood films. This is more like real life. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2002 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.