Riding in Cars with Boys is the story of Beverly (Drew Barrymore), a young girl who finds herself pregnant and married at age fifteen during the 1960s. Not wanting to give up her dreams of going to college and becoming a writer, Beverly faces the hardships of being a young mother as her classmates move forward without her and her husband becomes a drug-addicted loser.
While billed as a comedy, and it certainly does have many light-hearted and funny moments, the story is heavily focused on the very real drama faced by teen-aged mothers regardless of the time period. Beverly faces the dread of having disappointed her father (James Woods) and being accused of being a bad influence on her best friend, Fay (Brittany Murphy). The reality that having a child changes everything is a major theme.
Barrymore delivers a great performance as the ambitious but immature and often whiny Beverly, which is countered beautifully by Woods as her tough-loving father. The characters are believable, if not entirely sympathetic.
The not-everything-will-turn-out-okay theme to the story makes it very different from other ambitious girl films, which I think is one of its greatest attributes.
Film information: Riding in Cars with Boys