Driving Lessons Jeremy Brock

Funny, I thought Britain had actual cinema going on there, until I walked into Driving Lessons and saw how far things had degenerated. Harry Potter’s Rupert Grint stars as Ben Marshall, a put upon young man with an overbearing religious mother (Laura Linney) and distant Anglican priest father (Nicholas Farrell).

Though our hero is a sensitive lad who likes to write poetry, he can’t change his family arrangements or come off as normal to the hottie he’s got a crush on. He’s basically resigned himself to living under mum’s thumb until he takes a job with retired actress Evie Walton (Julie Walters), who is the "passionate life force” so familiar from these types of movies, and in no time flat she’s got the boy standing up for himself and sleeping with Irish girls Good for him, but unfortunately the program requires Walters to make sweeping arm movements and speak awkward dialogue about the greatness of Shakespeare, the only playwright writer/director Jeremy Brock seems to know.

In fact, the whole thing has been drawn from the Harold and Maude template, and while there are thankfully no Cat Stevens songs this time around there’s also a lack of conceptual force that made the earlier film a cult classic. Nothing about Driving Lessons suggests that Brock has been thinking about anything other than a genre to which he has come a day late and a dollar short; he’s not even particularly interested in that form, just in pounding out a screenplay so he can say that he made a movie.

The results are neither funny nor credible; it’s the kind of "uplifting” comedy that would only be completed by a ride in a hot-air balloon.

(Mongrel Media)