License to Drive crashes on to DVD on the 30th of July 2012 from Second Sight Films. The film was the second time the two Corey’s, Haim and Feldman, were cast alongside each other, having both been in Joel Schumacher’s 1987 surprise hit The Lost Boys. License to Drive was the first of a couple of films that attempted to cash in on the fact that they both had the same first name. This was a marketers dream, I mean, imagine the possibilities!
License to Drive sees, as with The Lost Boys, Haim taking the lead role of Les, a 16 year old who’s entire life revolves around getting his driving licence, feeling that once he has that licence all his troubles will vanish and girls will flock to him and his buddies Dean (Corey Feldman) and Charles (Michael Manasseri). Les however is, like most 16 year old boys, very lazy, and after doing no studying for his drivers exam he fails.
This doesn’t stop Les from actually driving though. Embarrassed by his failure he tells everybody he’s passed and that night takes his Grandfathers prized 1972 Cadillac out. Why this act of idiocy? Why would any 16 year old boy do something so irresponsible and reckless, because of a girl of course. This is not just any girl though, this is the most popular girl in school, this is Mercedes Lane, played by Heather Graham. All Les has to do is get through this one night, this one date of his life, with his lie intact, and he can retake the test and nobody will ever know.
This film is pure 80’s teen romp gold. What can often happen with teen films from the 80’s is they can get lost in the shadow of the John Hughes films, if it’s not The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink, they lack the relevance, and it’s true, License to Drive doesn’t have the intelligence or sophistication of those films. What it does have in spades is fun, much like one of the lesser talked about Hughes films, the brilliant Weird Science. This film is designed to simply entertain, it’s not looking any deeper than that, and what’s great about revisiting this type of film, is looking back at how some 24 years ago, this was a teen summer comedy. Have things changed that much? Well yes. We get less and less of these types of films every year, and when we do get them they are never released in the summer, because that’s when the blockbusters get released. Instead these films come out in February or April, during the one or two weeks holidays, where there is not enough time for the bored youth of today to go and see it more than once, so it’s claimed that nobody wants these none effects driven throwback real life comedy pieces. When in reality if they are made well, and not filled with excruciatingly irritating characters like Project X for example, then they can both appeal to nostalgia freaks like me, and just maybe to the youth of today.
As has often been the case throughout Corey Feldman’s career, he is mostly used for other characters to bounce off. Haim was always seen as the one of the pair that had the right look to front a movie, and Feldman would be there to offer the comic side-kick of sorts. This was a role that Feldman had perfected in Gremlins, Goonies and Stand by Me. Although in Stand by Me Feldman delivers the best performance of his career when he is given the ability to do more than just crack wise. Both Corey’s are undeniably watchable and ooze 80’s charisma and charm, they offer a great representation of that mid level of high school standing, the inbetweeners, as the popular tv show would describe.
It is however, neither of the two Corey’s that has gone onto be the biggest star from this film. That accolade must go to Heather Graham, who we get to see before Twin Peaks, and almost 10 years before dropping her clothes and strapping on some roller boats to become the iconic Rollergirl in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. Here Graham adds more depth and personality to a character that could have just been any pretty face, with Mercedes we have a character that adds to the fun and brings a physical element to the comedy in the film, that is unexpected at times.
I love License to Drive for the fact that it’s so much a film of its time. It’s not weighted down by trying to convey any message it has no reason to, it’s simply designed to entertain. If your looking for an 80’s nostalgia trip it’s certainly worth revisiting, and seeing how the 80’s provided us with some great teen based humour that still resonates today.
License to Drive is available on DVD from 30th of July 2012 from Second Sight Films RRP: £15.99 best price found £10.99 http://www.amazon.co.uk
Anyway peace out suckers!