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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.29%
Worth A Look: 14.29%
Pretty Bad: 14.29%
Total Crap: 7.14%

1 review, 8 user ratings

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Driving Lessons
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by William Goss

"Running On Empty"
3 stars

Yet another entry in that exhausted unofficial subgenre of low-key Brit charmers which wore out their welcome a couple of years back, the middling dramedy 'Driving Lessons' travels a well-worn route, playing like a heavily distilled 'Harold and Maude' as eccentric Julie Walters helps rigid Rupert Grint loosen up and learn to love life, so on and so forth.

The son of a dull vicar (Nicholas Farrell) and domineering mother (a mildly miscast Laura Linney), Ben (Grint) gets a job assisting aging actress Evie (Walters), whose ever-peculiar nature helps the perpetually flustered Ben slowly shed his shell, come of age, etc.

For a film of its ilk, Lessons is rarely cloying yet unusually graceless, if writer and debut director Jeremy Brock wants to craft an idiosyncratic delight without really trying. He doesnít quite abuse the crowd-pleasing and heart-tugging moments, but he also avoids straying into unfamiliar territory at every turn, and the humor persistently lacks a much-needed bite or edge. Not helping matters are a rather ill-suited score and a subplot concerning a cross-dressing live-in that figures clumsily into the filmís climax, but just about every other stop on the route from friction to friendship is reached right on schedule without any genuine feelings or fun to make the trip worthwhile.

As such, the allegedly semi-autobiographical proceedings primarily serve as a showcase for Grint to play off his Harry Potter co-star in an effort to take a step in no particular direction out from under the shadow of his role in the famous fantasy franchise, and at best, he demonstrates his remarkable skill for moping and muttering like a typical timid teen. Thus, it falls to Walters to liven up matters, to serve as a foil to everyone else, and itís not her showboating moments, but the little touches that bring her character any warmth (youíve never seen a woman toss a pair of garden shears so nonchalantly), and she brings her character to such vivid life that Iíll be damned if she doesnít deserve to belong in a better movie. Regrettably, the usually reliable Linney finds herself struggling with her righteous role and awkward accent, and her strict mum never gets a chance to recover.

'Lessons' is barely ever anything more than a thorough exercise in merely adequate trifle, and for that reason, thereís no real motive for any curious parties to either steer clear of or go out of their way for such familiar fare.

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originally posted: 12/17/06 15:58:41
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Austin Film Festival For more in the 2006 Austin Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/28/11 Aunda Good actors, bad csript.... 2 stars
2/14/09 Ezzyme Better than a sleeping pill. 1 stars
7/05/08 Samantha Pruitt i loved Rupert in this, shows he can do more than just be a wizard 4 stars
8/20/07 drdanny Ok. Not great, just OK 3 stars
8/11/07 Gina Castano I thought that both Julie and Rupert were great. It shows that Rupert is in fact an actor! 5 stars
12/18/06 Steve M It has its moments but a flat-footed script relies too much on Julie Walters 4 stars
8/28/06 Mooly Boring movie, Julie Walter is great but Rupert Grint ruined the movie for me. 2 stars
5/03/06 Deb Bennett Loved It! Julie Walter & Rupert Grint are great! 5 stars
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  13-Oct-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-Jul-2007



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