Throwback Thirty – License to Drive (1988)

license-to-drive-movie-poster-1988-10202698345_star_rating_system_2_and_a_half_stars What is it you imagine when you think about the 80s? Is it the hair? The clothes? The music? Or is it the dynamic acting duo that was the two Coreys? Coreys Haim and Feldman only appeared in 3 films together in the 80s but they were quite the pair. They were household names. Lost Boys was one of my all time favourite films as a teenager so I have a definite soft-spot for them. Obviously, as we know now, there was a lot of shit going on behind the scenes as they were growing up in Hollywood but there can be no denial that they were important pop culture figures in the 80s and 90s. So, statistically, I was bound to come across at least one of them in my quest to revisit the films of that came out the same year that I did. As it turned out, I got two for the price of one with this teen comedy starring both Coreys. It’s not something I’ve seen before so I was excited to see my favourite pair reunited on-screen. Even if it is about learning to drive. After all, despite being 30 years old now, I still haven’t passed my driving test. It’s something that seems to bother more people than it does me and wasn’t a move I intended. However, it’s the way things are. Maybe this film would show me what I was missing?

 

Although that seems unlikely considering License to Drive is a comedy about Les Anderson (Corey Haim) failing his driving text. Unfortunately for Les, he has not only convinced his best friend Dean (Corey Feldman) that he has passed but also his dream girl. After a series of lucky encounters, Les manages to wangle a date with cool girl Mercedes Lane (Heather Graham) but it all revolves on him being able to drive. Not being willing to cancel his date on the technicality of having failed, Les steals his father’s prized car and takes Mercedes out for the night. Obviously, things quickly start to go awry and Les must find a way to keep Mercedes happy whilst getting his family car back in one piece.

The problem with License to Drive is that it feels like one of those cut n shut cars that have been made out of two halves of different cars. It starts off as an amusing comedy about the dread and fear of taking your driving test and then becomes a ridiculous car chase. I can’t help but wish that there was more of the former and less of the latter. I mean we’ve seen car chase movies done better than this. The second half of License to Drive is just a series of situations that allow the young actors to smash-up an expensive car. It just gets boring and predictable. It’s just an excuse to shove in a load of stunts instead of funny content.

I wanted to like this film because both Coreys are fantastic. They work as well together here as they always do and are their usual charming and funny selves. There are also some incredibly good moments early on in the film. Les’ driving test ends up being the gruff examiner, played wonderfully by James Avery, placing a steaming cup of coffee on the dashboard and saying if he gets scolded Les fails. It’s an incredibly tense and funny sequence that shows the potential this film had. There are also some interesting moments between Les’ parents (Richard Masur and Carol Kane) who are dealing with pregnancy issues unaware that their transport to the hospital is missing.

The problem is that this film tries to become something more than it needed to be. It just becomes another bland car chase film and it loses any of the charm it had. Les and his friends come across police officers, drunk drivers, and eager speed demons looking for a race. It’s all scenes we’ve seen countless times before and it’s been done better. It’s not that License to Drive is offensive and it is entertaining enough. It’s just that it could have been so much better.

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