By Lisa Schwarzbaum
November 02, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

Based on the real-life I-was-a-teen-mom memoir by Beverly Donofrio but sweetened excessively in the translation, Riding in Cars with Boys stars Drew Barrymore as a 1960s teenager whose unplanned pregnancy at the age of 15 becomes the defining event of her hard-knock life; Steve Zahn is the baby’s dropout father, who becomes a junkie. Director Penny Marshall regularly downshifts the anger to low-gear cute every time the road gets tough, letting the younger actors who play Bev’s son grin and mug and all but yodel.