Drive [1997]

This conflicted teen comedy can't decide what it wants to be. Is Drive Me Crazy a mainstream piffle about a popular girl who turns her grungy next-door neighbor into a dream date? Or is it a sneaky critique of high school conformity? Melissa Joan Hart (TV's Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) is angling to get asked to an upcoming dance by a basketball star, but when her plans go awry, she turns to a childhood friend (Adrian Grenier from The Adventures of Sebastian Cole) in the hopes of avoiding total humiliation. Grenier wants to win back his recently lost girlfriend, so he agrees to Hart's total makeover plan to induce jealousy. Naturally, the scam turns into something sparky. Teen flicks always make things too glossy and upscale, but Drive Me Crazy somehow fumbles its design and ends up looking false and square. The movie initially presents Grenier's transformation as unqualified good, with no sense that anything he was doing before--political protests, alternative music, rebellious pranks--had any value. But as the plot unfolds, a few barbed twists undercut the good cheer, sneakily commenting on school spirit and popularity. These themes wrestle uncomfortably with the movie's production values, resulting in a curiously provocative jumble. This confusion is probably why the movie was only a modest success in theaters, but it's actually what makes Drive Me Crazy worth looking at now. --Bret Fetzer

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