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Driving Me Crazy Review

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In order to get to know his girlfriend's teenage son, self-made millionaire Dutch volunteers to drive him from the Georgia Military school he attends back to Chicago for Thanksgiving. On the road, however, he discovers that there's a reason this kid was in military school.

★★★★★

Another sentimental road comedy from the pen of producer John Hughes, Driving Me Crazy (released as Dutch in the US) is the story of Dutch (Ed O'Neill),a blunt, self-made businessman who ferries his fiancee's bratty pre-teen son (Randall) from the lad's Georgia military school to his Chicago home over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The plot has the wind-up toy ingenuity for which Hughes is famous: with the Georgia-to-Chicago interstate highway system substituting for a real plot, all that remains is for the principals to bicker with one another until they run out of gas, literally and otherwise. Dutch's demotic plainspokenness vies with his charge's privileged resentfulness against a holiday background of good old American values; guess which character comes out on top at the end of the trip?

Australian-born director Peter Faiman has none of the sensitivity to American landscape that most non-American directors bring to the byways of the country's big middle and ultimately he doesn't explore even the levelling uniformity of the roadside restaurants and motels which make up the action's bland backdrops. The claustrophobic visual field and the overdetermined plot lend the entire proceedin the air of a TV sitcom, although, oddly enough, Ed O'Neill - who really is the star of American hit TV show Married With Children - brings unusual commitment to his portrayal of the man-of-the-people millionaire.

In the film's best scene, when Dutch joyfully leaps about setting off recently-purchased firecrackers while his charge sits snottily inside their car, the actor momentarily conveys the cut-loose merriments that are the preserve of the socially at-ease. Otherwise, this contraption winds down long before it winds up.

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