There’s only so much you can do with an eleven minute film involving a girl who is taking a driver’s test. It either ends as an incomplete story, as a cliché spectacle, or it ends up feeling like an extended commercial. Luckily, with good writing, and very good acting all around, “Driver’s Ed” is an insightful and very funny short film that I’d love to see extended in to a full length film. But that’s more wishful thinking than anything, mind you. Jessica Skerritt is literally the Driver’s Ed student from hell as Kate, the disgruntled and shallow girl who is experiencing troubles in her life, one of which is passing a driver’s ed test. Kate is your usual vacuous high school girl who wants things for the wrong reasons and her reason for wanting to drive are basically for the wrong reasons.
Most of the film takes place in the car while Kate vents to her instructor and destroys everything in sight. The comic chemistry between Skerritt and her unfortunate instructor played by Tony Doupe make for some deadpan comic delivery, and hilarious gags that make this so entertaining. Kate basically knows the essentials of driving but can’t go two feet without slamming in to something or spilling hot coffee on her instructor. Doupe is hilarious screaming, and attempting desperately to get Kate to focus and keep himself alive. But Kate is much too self-involved to see what she’s doing wrong—or that she could get them killed. I found myself inching down in my seat in anxiousness and laughing aloud at the calamities our main character gets herself in to, and when an eleven minute movie can get me this involved, I take quite a liking.
The acting from both Skerritt and Doupe are very memorable and the chemistry is smooth and natural, while Thom Harp’s directing is very good. “Driver’s Ed” ends as an allegory for Kate’s life. She’s in a wreck, she’s a wreck while driving, if she can focus on her life and her true priorities, perhaps—perhaps—she can make it through her driving without destroying something or killing herself. The last funny question for the climax remains—will her instructor ever come back to teach her to drive and guide her again? Wouldn’t be realistic if we knew the answer, now would it?
Posted on January 6, 2006 in Reviews by Felix Vasquez Jr.
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