License to Drive (1988)

license to drive

“An innocent girl, a harmless drive. What could possibly go wrong?”

The Scoop: 1988 PG-13, directed by Greg Beeman and starring Corey Haim, Corey Feldman, and Heather Graham

Tagline: Some guys get all the brakes!

Summary Capsule: Teen goes through the horrors of the DMV and the thrills of the ultimate dream date.


Justin’s rating: Do girls still think guys that drive hot cars are attractive? I’m confused what the current status of that is.

Justin’s review: Life in the ’80s was much simpler than our current double-espresso cyber-dot-com Slick Willy world. People were shallow and materialistic and pastel, and all you needed to get the girl was a car and a good dance sequence. Now, years after Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, we are stuck in some sort of ambiguous relationship hell, where most people are afraid to date and go straight to getting married.

If you made a list of the top 20 eighties comedies that truly defined that generation’s attitude toward fast living, teen rebellion, synthesizer tunes, and a strange Japanese obsession, you would definitely have to include License To Drive, although it would place around number 19 or so. It’s basically about the pre-teen obsession to get a license, a car, and (inevitably) Heather Graham.

Les figures that if he gets a license, a slick car complete with a girlfriend will plop into his lap. It’s a sound plan, really.  The first half of this film should be called Getting A License To Drive. Young Les (Corey Haim) is wrapping up driver’s ed and preparing to take his exams. In Les’ case, this is a feat of no small epic proportions, as it includes a driving test that revolves around not spilling coffee onto his instructor. Appropriately for this type of comedy, Les’ experiences in the DMV are over-the-top and provide a bulk of the laughs.

Does he get the license? Nope.

Stranded without a license, Les finds that a slick car and a hot girl land in his lap anyway. Defying his mustache-rocking father and pregnant mother, he sneaks out with best friend Dean (Corey Feldman) to make his dream come true. What happens this night is the stuff of mild legend — drunk driving, dancing with a gorgeous girl on the hood of a Caddy, long chases. Think Ferris Bueller and Better Off Dead for a slightly more immature audience who like to see things to SMASH.

This is one of those movies that has a very uninteresting lead character (Les is visibly on the edge of puberty and doesn’t really deserve to kiss Ms. Graham), but it does have a lot of hilarious side characters, sort of reminiscent of a John Hughes film. Dean has most of the good lines, Les’ Mom (Carol Kane) is hysterical with how gross her pregnancy is, and the DMV people are not to be trifled with.

License to Drive is certainly no classic — it was batted around by the cruel hands of critics back in ’88 and has little if any connection to the teens today. But there’s just something charming and quite fun about this movie that turned it into a guilty pleasure of many, including yours truly.

It's a Corey sandwich, no fries.
It’s a Corey sandwich, no fries.


  • Neither Corey Feldman nor Corey Haim had a driver’s license and were in the middle of obtaining it during the filming of the movie.
  • The “narrator” in Les’ opening dream
  • What Les’ mom eats at dinner
  • The car horn stops the second Les’ parents scream “Get Out!”, even though there’s no way Dean could’ve known that Les was coming out right then
  • The obscene amount of “Mercedes” jokes used
  • Grampa’s Top Ten
  • What’s in the trunk?

Groovy Quotes

Les: An innocent girl, a harmless driver. What could possibly go wrong?

Les: I am so dead they’re going to have to bury me twice.

Dean: Could you take the car out of neutral? We just got passed by a street sweeper.

Dean: Les, that license in your wallet, that’s not an ordinary piece of paper, that is a driver’s license, and its not only a driver’s license, it’s an automobile license, and it’s not only an automobile license, it’s a license to live, a license to be free, a license to go wherever, whenever and with whomever you choose.

Miss Hellberg: Stand back children, don’t mess with me I’m a living time bomb.

Mr. Anderson: You are damn lucky that your mother didn’t go into labor tonight!
Mrs. Anderson: Robert!
Mr. Anderson: DAMN LUCKY!
Mrs. Anderson: ROBERT! I AM in labor!

Charles: We’re going to be locked up with men who murdered, and raped, and robbed convenience stores.

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