Proof Review: Drive Me Crazy (1999)

Release Date
October 1, 1999
Director
John Schultz
Screenplay
Todd Strasser
Rob Thomas
Distributed By
20th Century Fox
Budget
$8.5 million
Comedy, Drama, Family, Romance
Rated PG-13 For Teen Alcohol and Drug Use, and For Language
91 minutes

Drive Me Crazy

The year 1999 was packed with romantic teen comedies, especially ones involving make-overs and blending social groups. While Freddie Prinze Jr. was busy making over Rachel Leigh Cooke (She’s All That) and Heath Ledger was busy getting paid to take out Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You), Melissa Joan Hart was stealing a page out of that same book and making over her neighbor, Adrian Grenier, with a new leather jacket and a haircut.

As with most high school dramas, the film revolves around an impending dance (Never Been Kissed, She’s All That), in which Nicole (Hart) is supposed to be attending with the star basketball player, but when he falls for someone else, Nicole is forced to look for a last minute date replacement. At the same time, Chase (Grenier), Nicole’s longtime neighbor, has just been dumped by his activist girlfriend Dulcie (Ali Larter). What transpires is the ultimate scheme of pretending to date to make their significant others jealous. How could that possibly go wrong?

Drive Me Crazy tends to suffer from being a run-of-the-mill, generic teen movie with the same old teenage problems and the same old storybook of tying loose ends. The same pieces are all present, including the jocks, the social outcasts, the preppies, and the sluts. However, to be fair, these pieces are far more articulate than the average set of teenage comedy dwellers.

Why the writers and directors of the late 90’s felt the need to constantly reproduce the same story is beyond me. The film Whatever It Takes basically takes on the same plot structure with neighbors banding together to get what they want but hopelessly falling for one another instead.

Melissa Joan Hart makes her theatrical feature film debut, taking her first steps away from the worlds of Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina The Teenage Witch and actually proving that she can hold her own. Her performance is grounded by the fact that she can speak for herself and that she knows that her group of friends are rather jaded, all while reflecting a subtle sex symbol. Long before Entourage, Adrian Grenier takes second lead, continuing an already successful reign on the big screen. Grenier is perfect for his part, offering an alternative to the clean-and-cut Prinze Jr, Paul Walker, and Shane West.

Having seen this film several times during its rounds on cable when I was still a teen, the film has basically become a generational classic, representing that particular time in our lives when Britney Spears was just gaining worldwide popularity with her high school dance number song, “(You) Drive Me Crazy”. Though it will hardly outshine any of the films in its peer group, Drive Me Crazy is still a fond memory in a year of beating this genre to death.

 

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