There are a lot of classic 80s movies: Back To The Future, Can't Buy Me Love, Ferris Bueller's Day Off...the list goes on. But none hold a special place in my heart like License to Drive. Corey Haim (RIP) was my first real celebrity crush. After seeing The Lost Boys (you can read Tiffany White's great post on it here), I was totally in lust with Corey Haim.
I remember waiting at the theater to see License to Drive with my best friend and feeling so nervous you'd think I was meeting the boy in person. And when the movie finally came out on VHS (remember those?!), my friends and I wore it out. Literally. I had to replace my copy.
For those of you who haven't seen this hilarious movie by "The Two Coreys," as they became known, it's about a sixteen year old who fails his driving test and then lies about it to his parents. The movie opens with a crusty bus driver keeping his students chained to the bus. Its windows are so dirty they can't even see out of them; the bus is their purgatory on wheels. Corey Haim's character, Les, breaks out of the bus and snags a hot car with a hot chick, then wakes up to find himself stuck in yet another boring driver's ed lesson.
Enter Corey Feldman, the wisecracking best friend, a role Feldman excelled at. He can't wait for Les to get his license so they can go out. Les's also trying to impress the beautiful Mercedes (Heather Graham), the hot chick from his dream who likes older guys and is clearly out of his league.
One of my favorite scenes is early on, before Les fails the test. His Dad (played by Richard Masur) picks him up in his grandfather's Caddy, and Les talks him into letting him drive down the block and offer Mercedes a ride. Just down the block, he assures his father. So Dad gets out of the car, loaded with diapers and other baby paraphernalia, and waits. Except Mercedes is going to a friends, and Les drives off, leaving Dad stranded. The scene culminates when Les finds Dad, dragging the baby stuff and puffing like a dragon.
And who could ever forget the nasty lady at the DMV, with her horrible makeup and yellow teeth telling Les he'd failed the test?
"God giveth and the DMV taketh away."
Of course, Dean (Feldman) talks Les into driving without a license, in his grandfather's expensive Caddy, no less. The night is spent with a drunken, passed-out Mercedes in the back while Les, Dean, and their nerdy friend go from bad adventure to worse. At one point, a drunk steals the Caddy and then the boys have to chase him down driving the bum's tiny VW Bug. The chase nearly destroys his grandfather's precious car, and after Les recovers the caddy, he narrowly avoids a DUI.
Of course, the movie wouldn't be complete without a mad rush to the hospital. Les's mom goes into labor, and he's the only one who can drive. The Caddy is so damaged it can only go in reverse, and the result is a harrowing and comical trip through Los Angelas.
And don't forget the soundtrack! It's one of my all-time favorites, featuring The Breakfast Club, Belinda Carlisle, New Edition, and Billy Ocean.
With classic 80s humor, great music, and both Corey's at their acting best, License to Drive is a great comedy that still holds up to today's movies.
The original theatrical trailer:
Fun License To Drive Facts:
The production went through NINE 1974 Cadillacs during shooting.
Neither Corey has his license when shooting began; Corey Haim had to pass his test in order to shoot the driving scenes.
Ben Affleck allegedly tried out for the role of Les.
Heather Graham was worried about kissing Haim because docs were afraid he had mono.
Corey Feldman originally auditioned for the part of Les.