Best-selling author and journalist Beverly Donofrio is portrayed with great care and complexity by Drew Barrymore in "Riding in Cars With Boys," the recent Columbia pictures release based on Donfrio's memoir of the same name.
New York Times reviewer Stephen Holden called Barrymore's "tough-but-tender" portrayal of the "hardened New York journalist" further proof that the actress "has what it takes to stretch her talents into large, complex portrayals."
The story spans two decades of Donofrio's life from the writer as a 15-year-old pregnant high school student, who hastily marries the father Ray Hasek, played by Steve Zahn, only to divorce him when he becomes absorbed by his drug addiction, to Donofrio as the not-so-great single mother of teen-aged son Jason, played by Adam Garcia.
The movie, despite some flaws, moves back and forth in time with "an impressive cut-and-paste agility, skillfully interweaving humor and drama without tipping over into farce or soap opera," according to Holden.
Directed by Penny Marshall, the film avoids the typical Hollywood pitfalls, ending up, with the help of screenplay author Morgan Upton Ward, as a highly believable portrayal of the real-life humor and pathos of a woman-child faced with the desire to pursue her dreams while raising a child alone, from an inappropriately early age.
Zahn holds his own next to Barrymore in his sympathetic role as Ray, the adolescent father turned drug addict.
Despite the defects of the main characters, their basic grace and ability to love shines through, in this skillful portrayal of the life of an original woman.
The film also stars James Woods as Donofrio's police-officer father, Lorraine Bracco, as her bingo-addicted mother, and Brittany Murphy as Donofrio's life-long best friend.
The movie's development was closely monitored by Donofrio, who met with writer-director-producer James L. Brooks ("Terms of Endearment," "As Good As It Gets") shortly after the book was optioned, " according to a review in the L.A. Times.
It is currently playing at Market Square cinemas.

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