Licence to Drive [also known as To Live and Drive in L.A. - a much better title] is a 1988 ‘Coreys’ vehicle spawned by Greg Beeman – the director behind Problem Child 3: Junior in Love (1995). The film opens with a group of pasty-looking kids chained up on a school bus. Les Anderson (Corey Haim) is one of them and is desperately trying to break free from his shackles as the maniacal bus driver cackles his way to certain doom. Somehow Haim, just your regular high school kid to my eyes, is spry enough to leap from the bus as it careens at full speed ahead and wind up in the driving seat of a red convertible where a badly-permed Heather Graham awaits. Then they speed away from a massive explosion and then…he wakes up. Yes, it’s a dream sequence. I knew something about it didn’t quite add up. Something more than Graham’s tidal-wave-esque quiff.
The bad news is that Les has fallen asleep at a pretty crucial time. You see, Les wants, more than anything in the world, to get his driver’s license. Unfortunately he’s slumbered through THE video that will enable him to pass the test. How unbelievable is that? Now Les is left without a license on the very weekend of his first date with Heather Graham, who is seemingly only interested in boys with cars. Maybe she never got that special edition deluxe Knight Rider set she wanted for Christmas, who knows? Anyway this leaves Les in a decided jam and on top of that he has to contend with his somewhat zany friend Dean (Corey Feldman); he’s a complete menace on a bicycle, but boy can he hammer out dents in a Caddy… The only logical thing to do in this socially stunting situation? Steal your dad’s car (it really belongs to Grandad but, you know, whatevz).
Despite being unashamedly formulaic (Corey + Corey + Hot Chick + Hot Car = Awesome 80s Adventure) there are some laughs to be had in License to Drive and although I never fully understood the big deal about the two Coreys I can easily see this being a thoroughly entertaining watch for those that did. As with most films from the mid-80s there is something adorably off-kilter about the family, Heather Graham gets trashed in a garish dress and Billy Ocean sings on the soundtrack. There are perks.
A small warning for feminists though: this film acts as though the second wave never happened. The boys spend their time at parties guessing what kind of car each girl would lose her virginity in (the more beautiful the girl the more expensive the car). Haim at one point attaches Heather Graham’s yearbook photo on to a the body of a scantily clad pin-up and, finally, the male protagonist is obsessed with car ownership and his leading lady is named: Mercedes Lane. If you have vaguely pro-women feelings you may need a cherry coke to wash away the bad taste, if you don’t you’ll probably really enjoy watching Haim trying to coerce a vomiting drunk out of his Grandad’s Cadillac. Either way I judge ye not.
Helen has awarded License to Drive three Torches of Truth
License to Drive is now available on DVD.