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Riding in Cars with Boys (2001)



Average Rating: 5.2/10
Reviews Counted: 109
Fresh: 53 | Rotten: 56

Riding in Cars With Boys suffers from mixing grit and pathos with cuteness and comedy. Ironically, many critics found Zahn's character more compelling and three-dimensional than Barrymore's.


Average Rating: 4.5/10
Critic Reviews: 32
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 21

Riding in Cars With Boys suffers from mixing grit and pathos with cuteness and comedy. Ironically, many critics found Zahn's character more compelling and three-dimensional than Barrymore's.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 95,149

My Rating

Movie Info

Penny Marshall directed this serio-comic story, based on the memoir by Beverly Donofrio, about a young woman who finds her life radically altered by an event from her teen years. Born in 1950, Beverly (Drew Barrymore) grew up bright and ambitious in a working-class neighborhood in Connecticut; her father (James Woods) was a tough but good-hearted cop with an understanding ear for his daughter's problems, and her mother (Lorraine Bracco) was a nervous woman eager to imagine the worst. From an


Drama, Comedy

Morgan Ward

Mar 19, 2002


Columbia Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (124) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (53) | Rotten (56) | DVD (16)

Beverly is supposed to be a bad girl running with the wrong crowd, but most of the time she seems to be right out of a serioso episode of Laverne & Shirley.

January 22, 2002 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The rough edges of Donofrio's life are either ignored or smoothed away, replaced by broad laughs and easy sentiment.

October 29, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A film with honesty, sincerity and a great big heart.

October 24, 2001 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's a sort of Hallmark tyranny at work.

October 19, 2001
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie may be based on Beverly Donofrio's memoir of the '60s, but it misses the honesty and grit of the source.

October 19, 2001
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despite being scrubbed almost spotless, the story still makes its mark.

October 19, 2001 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Not a great movie, although Drew Barrymore shines.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Columbia's marketing exploits the commercial title and producer James Brooks pedigree, but this humorless chick flick is one of Penny Marshall's worst films.

April 24, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

We've suffered through worse chick flicks throughout the years . . .

November 14, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Gurus

...[Drew Barrymore's] best performance to date...

August 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

should bring Barrymore at least the promise of more interesting scripts through the letterbox.

February 13, 2003 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

Barrymore is a wonder in this role.

October 21, 2002 Full Review Source: San Diego Metropolitan
San Diego Metropolitan

[Beverly] is a memorable character, a flesh-and-blood creation brought to life by an actress just beginning to hit her stride.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Although well made, this is a depressing film.

July 9, 2002 Full Review

It's an embarrassment, a misguided tearjerker that will only make you cry if you spent good money to see it.

June 9, 2002 Full Review Source: Kalamazoo Gazette
Kalamazoo Gazette

...Better than its dreadful theatrical campaign suggested [but] as prosaically made as the others in Penny Marshall's post-Big canon.

March 17, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

One can't stop wondering what trip this pandering seriocomedic drama is on...a self-pitying or egocentric one?

March 4, 2002 Full Review Source: Movie Eye
Movie Eye

I can take or leave sentimentality, but I cannot ignore when a film actually portrays at least three truthful, complex relationships.

February 26, 2002 Full Review Source: Mark Reviews Movies
Mark Reviews Movies

A wonderful, forgiving, surprising movie.

February 17, 2002

The film is buoyed by some excellent performances.

January 31, 2002 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Drew está genial, se gana completamente ser una recomendación completa para la cinta.

January 4, 2002

The film belongs to Zahn, who turns his two-dimensional slacker character into a truly heartbreaking portrait of disillusion and guilt.

December 10, 2001 Full Review Source:

Barrymore is so innately likable, so radiantly human, that one has extreme difficulty thinking of her in any kind of unsympathetic light.

December 9, 2001 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Penny Marshall is certainly not the right filmmaker for this material--at least if you'd like it to be something more than a trite tearjerker.

November 12, 2001 Full Review Source: Matinee Magazine
Matinee Magazine

Portrays the healing power of familial love once one is able to drop past disappointments, resentments, and pain.

November 6, 2001 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Riding in Cars with Boys

All time favourite of mine that I have not watched in a long time. Rewatching it was just as good - I love the honesty of this true story and the flaws of Bev, played wonderfully by Drew Barrymore. I know a lot of people do not like it, but a lot of people seem to want everything to be nice all the time, especially in movies, and people aren't like that in real life.
The story is set over about thirty years, starting in the 60's when Bev is a child and going through to the 80's when she is in her 30's. During this time, we see that she was a precocious child with a talent for writing who finds herself pregnant in her teens and married to the father of her son, who is not a guy she probably would have found herself with under normal circumstances. Bev's dreams of going to uni are crushed and her relationship with her father strained as she tries to make a go of her life. Needless to say, she is not the best mum and the issues of resentment towards her child are dealt with very honestly and well. It makes her unlikeable to a lot of people, to me it shows she is human. I don't think you ever seriously doubt that she loved her child, even when she doubts it herself, but certainly there are times that she hasn't liked him, and honestly, I think most people would have felt the same, such as the situation where her son blows her interview for her. Though you do feel sorry for her son, after all none of it is his fault, he is only a child and it seems he has way too much responsibility way before his time, you also feel sorry for Bev as you see yet another dream die for her. (Well, I did anyhow). After all, she was practically a child herself when she became pregnant.
The cast are all excellent here. It was sad to watch Brittany Murphy in this as Fay, Bev's best friend, who also finds herself pregnant and married off at a young age (yet somehow she comes out of it better than Bev does). Brittany was such a good actress and is perfect here. Steve Zahn also excellent as Bev's husband, Ray, who ends up a junkie. Nice small role by Sara Gilbert as one of her school friends and Adam Garcia also cast well as Bev's adult son.
This movie does somehow manage to have a nice ending. I know a few people consider it corny, but I liked it. I liked that things did pick up a little for Bev in the end, and that her son, Jason, found happiness (with a very young Maggie Gyllenhaal. I did not even remember her being in this, which shows how long ago I watched it!), and was able to feel less responsible for his mother. I have not read the book it is based on, so I am not sure how true this is to that, but a really inspiring true story.
March 12, 2011

Super Reviewer

A very good representation of the not so wedded bliss many mothers went through in low income housing and troublesome husband during the days of teen pregnancies. Nowadays we have an entire cavalcade of shows dedicated to this subject, and so it is very hard to take this story and its subject seriously without being partial. Barrymore, with a bit of class and humor, makes the movie and all its eccentricities not only barely, but great to watch. It's amazing how enjoyable this movie truly was.
December 9, 2010

Super Reviewer

Drew and Britney are two teenagers who get pregnant and married. The rest of their friends go to college. Drew always wanted to go to college and be a writer. Her husband is a drug addict and she asks him to leave her and their son. She recents her son and they have a strained relationship. Good cast. Based on true story.
November 3, 2010
Candy Rose

Super Reviewer

Here's another great Drew Barrymore movie, about a mother trying to raise her son normal despite social, domestic and economic odds. Amidst the difficulties, Beverly (Drew Barrymore) keeps a good spirit and not let herself be totally crushed. It feels real enough, and manages to entertain and keep a positive light during the awkward events, thanks to a well-written script, Penny Marshall's fun direction, and the great dialogue and performances. I enjoyed watching it.
June 12, 2010

Super Reviewer

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