Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Screening Log - Riding in Cars with Boys


The credits rolled 45 minutes ago, and I'm still struggling to decide how I felt about this movie. My initial instinct was dislike - Drew Barrymore's teen mother, Beverly, was too angry and childish and thoughtlessly cruel for me to feel much sympathy, and too many of the crucial scenes (you know, the ones where the characters talk about just exactly how much they're traumatizing one another) felt overdone. I was mixed up between the humor and the drama, too - were we supposed to laugh when the young mother starts to bawl hysterically after her child is born? Or cry along with her?

On the other hand, maybe the point is that Beverly is angry and thoughtlessly cruel, and yes, childish - because she is a child. I thought the scenes where nearly-grown son Jason is carrying the story were done with subtlety and skill; unlike the other characters, he doesn't have to announce that we've just shared a memory that scarred him deeply. And then there's the fantastic cast: whenever I'm not wild about a movie with a cast I greatly respect - not just for their acting abilities but for most of their script choices - I start to question my own instincts. Maggie Gyllenhaal, making a bad call? Say it ain't so!

Steve Zahn is impossible to dislike, Drew Barrymore makes me pull for Beverly even if she is a selfish bitch a lot of the time, and of course, Adam Garcia is delicious.

Worth a rental? Yeah. Brace yourself, though. After some reasonably dark build-up, the ending comes across as a bit too quick and tidy.

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