Riding in Cars With Boys | Chicago Reader

Riding in Cars With Boys

Even characters who are serial killers can win an audience's affection, but the villain of this adaptation of Beverly Donofrio's memoir can't, and she's merely a neglectful mother. That Beverly (Drew Barrymore) becomes a mother at 15 doesn't automatically make her sympathetic, and things get worse when she grudgingly agrees to marry the baby's father. Given just one moment of self-awareness, she never inspires emotional identification, even if her goals or circumstances do. And that precious moment—the look on Barrymore's face conveys everything the movie's been missing for the past two hours—is immediately undermined when someone (Donofrio, screenwriter Morgan Upton Ward, director Penny Marshall?) slaps a candy coating on the scene. Told in flashbacks introduced by the voice-over of Beverly's son (Adam Garcia), the tale moves between the 80s and the 60s, and the device and tone seem increasingly perverse. It's a bitter story played for humor, in which a callous character is never quite allowed to see herself as such. 122 min.

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