Stealing Cars DVD Review

    Actors: Felicity Huffman, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo
  • Director: Bradley Kaplan
  • Disc Info : Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Portuguese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Spanish, English, Japanese
  • Dubbed: French, Japanese
  • Region: Region 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Rated: R                                  
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 5, 2016
  • Run Time: 101 minutes



            It would be too easy to criticize Stealing Cars for having an unoriginal plot, though that is certainly the case, but it isn’t the existence of other troubled youth narratives that are the problem. The real issue comes from the construction of this film, which done well would have helped excuse the unoriginality in the narrative. Instead, each cloying moment in a screenplay that feels written by an angst-filled film student is then indulged without logic or balance by the director.


            Beginning like some bad hipster amalgamation of “Catcher in the Rye” and Rebel Without a Cause, we join bad boy teen Billy Wyatt (Emory Cohen) as his habit for joyriding leads him to the Bernville Camp for Boys. Let’s look past the fact that his name seems a transparent combination of Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp and right into the cliché aspects of a privileged upper-class white kid being the one to point out all of the problems with the juvenile detention center. Throw in a little bit of Cool Hand Luke, as yet another far better film that this one desperately attempts to emulate.


            The camp/prison is run by a fairly reasonable man (John Leguizamo), though he remains typically ignorant or indifferent to the abuse doled out by the borderline psychotic guards. Good characters are good because they are written that way; regardless of how selfish their actions may or may not be, there is always a way to justify their wrongdoings. And conversely the ‘bad guys’ in the movie are condemned for their human weaknesses without mercy or understanding. For this reason the guards and all supporting characters feel more like props for the inevitable story arc our protagonist will be predictably led down.


            We are clearly meant to follow the only round character in the narrative, and it doesn’t hurt that he is played by the same actor who gave a widely acclaimed performance in the Best Picture nominated film, Brooklyn. But an inexperienced actor can be great in one film and terrible in the next, performances either built or destroyed by the director and editor. I’m not sure if that is what happened here or it is truly just a mediocre performance, but I was as unimpressed with Cohen as I was with the film itself. He is too smart for those around him, which comes off more as teenage fantasy than reality. Though the plot tries to give him a tragic background to explain his behavior, this is just another eye-rolling manipulation by the film’s screenplay. Stealing Cars has all of the subtlety of a Lifetime original movie.


    Entertainment Value: 5.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 5/10

    Historical Significance:  3/10

    Special Features: 0/10

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