Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Riding in Cars with Boys: book vs. movie

I wrote last week about how much reading I get done at my summer job. I'm happy to report again that I read another book on my ever-expanding list. I got this book a couple years ago because I love the movie, and I wanted to be able to compare and contrast the two, because comparing book and film versions of the same story is one of my joys in life.

Riding in Cars with Boys, Beverly Donofrio's memoir of her teenage pregnancy and her quest for education and success that followed the failure of her teenage marriage was the basis for the 2001 movie. Drew Barrymore portrays Donofrio, and I think the casting is spot-on because of the wild child reputation that Barrymore earned for herself. Just like the real Beverly, who mellowed as she got older, and more adapted to her role as a mother, and more focused on furthering her education, Barrymore also grew into herself and seems comfortable with the place she has carved out for herself in Hollywood.

One thing that's good about watching a movie before reading the book is that I don't have to concoct physical descriptions of the characters in my imagination because I can picture the actors in their roles. Of course this works best if you like the movie and the casting decisions.

I did enjoy the book and although there were some changes in the cast of characters for the film rendition, I think that the decision to cut some of the characters was probably beneficial. With a reduced cast of characters, the story is more streamlined and the audience can focus their attention on the central conflict, and develop a bond with those characters that are most important to the central narrative.

In case you're wondering about which characters didn't make it onto the screen, here's a few: Bev's golden boy older brother, and one of her younger sisters. She also has a number of friends and acquaintances that weave in and out of her life, while the film emphasizes her relationship with her BFF Fay.

Also worth noting is the creation of a character for the movie that's nowhere to be found in the book.

Tommy, Bev's lovable loser highschool buddy who seems to be nursing a crush on her, never appeared in the text.

I couldn't find much about this character so I don't know who is responsible for creating him or what the motivation may have been. From what I read, it seemed that creating a character like this, who yearned for her attention back in highschool while she was busy chasing the bad boys and then becomes attractive and enjoys the education and lifestyle that Bev desires, would highlight the vast difference in how her life turned out.  

highschool Tommy:
post-collegiate Tommy:

Tommy is portrayed by a young and adorable Peter Facinelli. I just recently binge watched Nurse Jackie on Netflix, so it was nice to see him pre-Coop.

I found alot of lack-luster reviews for the film, but I've always enjoyed it. The character of her loser husband Ray is more pathetic in the book, probably because he lacks the charm of Steve Zahn. The book was an easy read; just a couple of hours. The language is accessible and the storyline isn't a huge departure from contemporary YA books. I would recommend the memoir for a YA audience, but I wish the film wasn't so dated. Even though the story takes place in the 60's and 70's, the actors that are cast are all typical of the 90's and early 2000's (RIP Brittany Murphy), so I think getting teens to watch the movie to accompany the reading might be hard sell.

If I ever see my dream of leading a teenage girl book/movie discussion club, I'd put this duo on the list. 

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