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Movie Review: "Drive Me Crazy"

'Drive Me Crazy' doesn't do well among its classmates

Friday, October 01, 1999

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

How do you know when you're, like, too old for a movie?

    "Drive Me Crazy"

Rated PG-13 for brief language, teen alcohol use.

Starring: Melissa Joan Hart, Adrian Grenier

Director: John Schultz

Critics call: 1 1/2 stars.


a) You graduated from high school in the same year as the cute guy's dad. b) You pay attention to how much alcohol the high school seniors consume and, sometimes, regurgitate. c) You wonder, yet again, how a kid can be clad in street clothes in one scene and formal party attire in the next. d) You really don't care if Britney Spears sings the title track. And yes, you know who Britney Spears is.

Guilty on all accounts.

I acknowledge I am not the intended audience for "Drive Me Crazy." But I have seen more than my share of teen movies this year, including "Teaching Mrs. Tingle," "10 Things I Hate About You," "She's All That" and "Varsity Blues," to name just a few.

So I know the movie version of a valedictorian -- something that rises above the rest. "Drive Me Crazy," despite two appealing leads, does not. This romantic comedy has an ending telegraphed in the first scene and another big dance -- a prom masquerading as a school centennial celebration.

"Drive Me Crazy" stars Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier as next-door neighbors and former best friends. She's Nicole, a focused, popular girl who cheers from the bleachers in basketball games, and he's Chase, a slovenly rebel who hangs out in coffeehouses, pulls pranks and plots protests, or so they say. Nicole lives with her divorced mother, Chase with his widowed father.

When Nicole's dream date -- a basketball star named Brad, looking like a bigger, beefier Matt Damon -- falls through, she hatches a plot to win him back. It just so happens that Chase and his girlfriend have split, so what if Nicole and Chase started acting like a couple? Would that make the athlete and the ex-girlfriend jealous? Or, will Nicole and Chase turn into a real couple?

Hart is pleasant but lacks the depth of, say, Julia Stiles from "10 Things I Hate About You." Grenier is a notch above, but he's mainly given lightweight material -- and hair and clothes transformations -- to work with. Maybe it's no coincidence that Nicole's unreliable dad (Stephen Collins, trying to play against his straight-arrow reverend from "7th Heaven") likes to fly hot-air balloons; weighty, this material is not.

On the plus side, "Drive Me Crazy" does have a PG-13 rating and none of the nudity and sex of the R-rated "Varsity Blues." And it points out the value of loyalty to friends, especially the geeky ones not part of the inner circle, and of standing up for yourself. And, under thank-heavens-for-small-film-favors, it has a designated driver for those underage drinkers.

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