Total Recall: Drew Barrymore's Best Movies
We count down the best-reviewed work of the Going the Distance star.
No matter how talented they are, most child stars have a hard time making the jump to grown-up roles -- and Drew Barrymore, with a pair of rehab stints under her belt before she was old enough to drive, initially seemed to be having a harder go of it than most. But Barrymore's turbulent youth was just the beginning of a career that has seen her starring in, producing, and even directing some of the most successful films of the last 20 years (not to mention one of the most memorable cameos, courtesy of Scream). With Going the Distance arriving in theaters this weekend, Barrymore is poised to add to her already-impressive $1.5 billion lifetime gross, so we thought now would be the perfect time to take a look back at the brightest critical highlights. It's time for Total Recall!
A Valentine's Day romantic comedy with unusually broad appeal, The Wedding Singer offered lonely hearts a chance to cheer along with a jilted (and profanely enraged) Adam Sandler -- while still making room for a sweet love story and plenty of vintage 1980s hits on the soundtrack. As mulleted wedding singer Robbie Hart, Sandler proved he was capable of more than the belligerent man-child of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore; as the doe-eyed cocktail waitress Julia Sullivan, Barrymore was at her most effortlessly charming. A formula picture? Sure. But that was enough for critics like the Globe and Mail's Liam Lacy, who sighed, "Finally, an Adam Sandler comedy that you can sit through without wanting to throw a mallet through the screen."
A cheerfully undemanding blockbuster that knows where its popcorn is buttered, Charlie's Angels was part of an early string of successes for Drew Barrymore's Flower Films, racking up almost $265 million in worldwide grosses with a savvy blend of stylish action thrills and winking T&A. Throw Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu in some skintight fashion, add a bunch of McG-directed set pieces, and you've got yourself an essentially critic-proof movie -- but most critics were surprisingly kind to these Angels anyway, including James Berardinelli of ReelViews, who surmised, "You'd have to be a hopeless curmudgeon not to be entertained on some juvenile level by this motion picture."
A year after scoring the title role in the adaptation of Stephen King's Firestarter, Barrymore reunited with the bestselling horror author for Cat's Eye, which ties together three of his short stories with the misadventures of a stray cat. Barrymore appeared in the film's final segment, "The General," about a girl whose nighttime routine is complicated by the evil designs of a dagger-wielding troll. It sounds a little silly, and it wasn't a huge hit, but Cat's Eye has become something of a cult film over time -- and it had its defenders while it was in theaters, among them Roger Ebert, who wrote, "Stephen King seems to be working his way through the reference books of human phobias, and Cat's Eye is one of his most effective films."
Sort of a power trio version of Thelma & Louise, 1995's Boys on the Side united Barrymore with Whoopi Goldberg and Mary-Louise Parker for a dramedy that incorporated modern themes (sexuality, gender roles, domestic violence) with the old-school craft of director Herbert Ross (Funny Lady, Footloose). While it wasn't an enormous hit at the box office, it was generally well-received by critics -- including Janet Maslin of the New York Times, who wrote, "Despite ads that present it as a giddy romp, Boys on the Side actually proves to be a wistful romance, a sardonic comedy, a Thelma, Edna and Louise tale of sisterly solidarity, and finally a sad, wrenching story that brings Terms of Endearment to mind."
Was Chuck Barris a secret assassin for the CIA, or just a game show pioneer with an overactive imagination? We'll probably never know for sure, but the truth matters less than the fact that Barris wrote a wildly entertaining autobiography about his version of events, inspiring screenwriter Charlie Kaufman to adapt it for the screen in 2002. George Clooney made his directorial debut with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which starred Sam Rockwell as Barris and Drew Barrymore as his long-suffering girlfriend Penny Pacino; like many of Barris' ideas for television shows, it was destined to sail over the heads of mainstream audiences -- and become a cult favorite for fans of flawed, off-kilter entertainment. Among the many critics who appreciated Confessions was Andrew Sarris of the New York Observer, who decreed, "Mr. Clooney, Mr. Kaufman and all their collaborators are entitled to take a deep bow for fashioning an engrossing entertainment out of an almost sure-fire prescription for a critical and commercial disaster."