"License to Drive" (citywide) hooks you faster than a car cutting in front of you on the freeway. It has this nice West Los Angeles kid named Les (Corey Haim, who's as likable as he was in "Lucas").
Writer Neil Tolkin and director Greg Beeman, both in their theatrical feature debuts, and Haim whisk you back to that awful period in your teens when you're finishing up driver education and applying for your first license. They make you remember the shame of having to have your mother chauffeur you, dropping you off a block away from wherever you're going so nobody will know your terrible secret.
From their affectionate, amused perspective, Tolkin and Beeman recall how earthshakingly important everything seemed in that limbo between being a child and being an adult, categories so neatly divided simply by the possession of that coveted piece of paper.
However, once they've snagged us, they waste no time in plunging Les and his pals into a wild, nonstop, freewheeling adventure sustained by unflagging inventiveness and laughter. They concoct more hairbreadth predicaments and cliffhangers than a year's worth of old-time Batman or Superman serials.
But just as Les gets carried away, so do Tolkin and Beeman, finally letting their film run out of control. Regardless of the fact that it is a comedy, "License to Drive" forgets its responsibility to its impressionable young audiences to bring them back to earth in the final reel, reminding them that what's fun and exciting to watch on the screen can be deadly in real life.
Instead, at the fade it has Les' parents endorsing his daredevilry on wheels simply on the basis of the bravura of his stunt driver's skills; never mind the danger, or that he \o7 still\f7 doesn't have his license!
All of Les' troubles start when he can't resist going out with the most gorgeous girl (lovely and talented Heather Graham, who recalls the freshness of Norma Jean Daugherty before she was transformed into Marilyn Monroe) in his school. She's on the rebound, but what the heck. And he can't resist taking her out in his vacationing grandfather's cherry vintage Cadillac. Never mind that he's just failed the written part of the exam for his driver's license.
Along for the adventure much of the way is Corey Feldman, the bright kid in "Stand By Me," who's Les' best pal and a constant egger-on. Carol Kane and Richard Masur are the most amusing parents of teens since Frederic Forrest and Colleen Camp in "Valley Girl."
"License to Drive" (rated a PG-13 that should be respected) is like a terrific party where no one figured out who was going to pay for it or clean up afterward.
'LICENSE TO DRIVE'
A 20th Century Fox release of a Davis Entertainment-Licht/Mueller Film production. Executive producer John Davis. Producers Jeffrey A. Mueller, Andrew Licht. Camera Bruce Surtees. Music Jay Ferguson. Production designer Lawrence G. Paull. Associate producer Mack Bing. Second-unit director Joe Dunne. Second-unit camera Bud Botham. Film editor Wendy Greene Bricmont. With Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, Carol Kane, Richard Masur, Heather Graham, Michael Manasseri.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
MPAA-rated: PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned; some material may be inappropriate for children under 13).