License to Drive (April 20/05)
License to Drive is exactly the sort of frenetic, exceedingly silly comedy that was all the rage during the '80s, made notable by an early appearance from the two Coreys (as in Haim and Feldman). Though there's nothing terribly original or innovative about the film, License to Drive does feature several charismatic performances and a screenplay that is - on occasion - surprisingly funny.
The story revolves around Les Anderson (Haim) and his efforts to procure a driver's license - a quest that becomes even more urgent when he finds himself asked out by his dream girl, Mercedes (Heather Graham). But when Les fails the test, all seems lost - until, of course, his friend Dean (Feldman) encourages him to take the car out anyway. What follows is a series of expectedly wacky mishaps, as Les must struggle to ensure the car - which just happens to be his grandfather's prized Cadillac - returns home in one piece.
It's not difficult to see why License to Drive has endured over the years, as the film features characters that are genuinely likeable - something that's particularly true of Haim's Les. That Haim spent several years in the late '80s and early '90s on the cover of virtually every teen magazine isn't terribly surprising, given his goofy, naturally charismatic demeanor. And though the actor spends an inordinate amount of screentime with his mouth ajar, it's impossible to deny the seemingly effortless nature of his performance; Les remains agreeable despite some seriously moronic decisions, including a sequence in which he and his friends toss Mercedes into the Cadillac's trunk (leading to inevitable line, "who would have thought a Mercedes could fit in the trunk of a Cadillac?")
The supporting cast is peppered with familiar faces, including Carol Kane and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air's James Avery, while veteran character actor Richard Masur steals every one of his scenes as Les' long-suffering but surprisingly understanding father. Screenwriter Neil Tolkin generally does a nice job of keeping things moving, though there's no denying that the film eventually becomes a little too madcap and over-the-top (particularly as the Caddy begins receiving an unreasonable amount of punishment). Still, as a breezy, mindless little comedy, License to Drive undoubtedly fits the bill.