Wednesday 1 August 2012


Re-released this week is one of the great under-appreciated '80s teen comedies. Starring Corey Haim and Corey Feldman (AKA The Two Corey's), License to Drive about a young man's dream to pass his driver's test and take the cute girl from school out on a date. As Haim's character puts it, "an innocent girl, a harmless drive. What could possibly go wrong?"

Starting with a bizarre dream sequence where Corey Haim literally breaks himself free from the shackles of the school bus, License to Drive tells the story of the brilliantly named 'Les Anderson' (Haim) wanting to experience the rite of passage that is getting his driver's licence. With a date with the school hottie (a young Heather Graham) on the cards, Les not only needs to pass his test but also find a way to borrow his Grandpa's Cadillac without his parents noticing.

Joining Les on his Superbad-esque 'one crazy night' is Corey Feldman and Michael Manasseri's hangers on, keen to make the most of their friend's newly found freedom. When Heather Graham's Mercedes turns out to be a bit of a duff date, passing out after drinking too much and scratching the hood of the car with her high heels, it's up to the group to try and fix the damage and get the car back home in one piece, avoiding the wrath of his parents; his heavily pregnant mother (Carol Kane) and his highly strung father (Richard Masur) as the car slowly turns into The Money Pit on wheels.

Capturing Haim at the height of his boyish charm, he seems like an underdog romantic lead; but hey, millions of screaming fangirls beg to differ. Feldman is playing the same basic, cocksure character he did in Goonies, just a bit older. The first portion of the film is largely based on Les's efforts to pass his driver's test (in one of the film's best scenes Les has to contend with a hard-ass coffee lover as his examiner, played by Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air), but there's a different dynamic once Feldman turns up proper and the two actors get to bounce off one another.

The film could be dismissed as Ferris Bueller-lite, but it deserves more credit than that. Sure, its existence may be dependent on the '80s teen car-caper sub-sub-sub-genre, but it's one of the best of the bunch. Finished off with a soundtrack of '80s car/driving anthems (Jane Wiedlin's 'Rush Hour', Billy Ocean's 'Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car'), License to Drive is something of an under-appreciated gem and a great example of why the two Corey's were so popular in their heyday.

Both of the Corey's fell from grace to varying degrees, with Haim passing away in 2010 after a slow decline into drug dependency; but this is a time capsule of an era where the two young stars were in high demand, even more so when paired up with each other. That's probably what makes this the ultimate two Corey's movie; away from all the drug scandals, poorly dyed hair and dodgy scripts (the '90s were not kind to either of them), this is a pleasant reminder of not only how much fun the two young actors at the height of their stardom were having on screen, but how genuinely fun '80s teen comedies could be.


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