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Driven

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Driven Movie Poster Image
Crime, coke, cursing in cautionary car mogul tale.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 108 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

"Scuzzy deals" have consequences. The pursuit of money and, by extension, materialism is what leads to crime, although it's not shown so much as greed but rather a means to an end. Implies that an excessive lifestyle leads to celebrity friends.

Positive Role Models & Representations

This film is about the consequences of drug deals, and there are no positive role models. The wives don't support engaging in criminal activities in the pursuit of money, but they both demonstrate materialistic behavior.

Violence

Three instances of empty threats of physical/deadly violence.

Sex

A character strips down to her underwear to change clothes and is briefly topless. A woman under the influence kisses and grabs another woman's breasts. Tight/revealing clothes. An affectionate married couple implies through flirtatious interactions that they're planning to have sex.

Language

Frequent swearing/crude language, with variations of "ass," "c--k," "hell," "s--t," and "f--k." Insults include "idiot," "scumbag," and more.

Consumerism

A Pontiac GTO is treated with worship, and a Rolls Royce golf cart is shown as a sign of money.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The film revolves around an entrepreneur raising money through an illegal cocaine deal. Bricks of cocaine are seen, packaged, and wrapped; a glamorous character alludes to the fact that she once had a habit. One example of drugs being snorted: Unsavory characters snort several lines and pressure another character to do so, too, which is followed by outrageous behavior. Characters drink frequently, especially in social settings. Smoking is constant.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Driven explores the events that led to the downfall of 1980s automobile mogul John DeLorean (Lee Pace) -- namely, a drug deal that was intended to financially rescue his company (but didn't). For a story that's all about how possession and intent to distribute cocaine destroyed careers, there's just one instance of the drug being used. Unlikable characters snort a few lines, leading to behavior that's obnoxious -- although some teens might see it as wacky fun, including a woman impulsively stripping off her clothes and grabbing another woman's breasts. Drinking, swearing ("f--k," "s--t," "c--k"), and smoking (accurate for the time period) are constant. The film's true value is to show that illegal get-rich-quick schemes can cost you something more valuable than money.

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What's the story?

Based on real events, DRIVEN is about the relationship of automotive innovator John DeLorean (Lee Pace) and his neighbor, Jim Hoffman (Jason Sudeikis), a drug smuggler-turned-government informant. As the dashing auto exec's dream of becoming the first independent car manufacturer starts to buckle under financial stress, he turns to his friend for an alternative revenue stream. 

Is it any good?

If you're looking for the truth about what happened to John DeLorean, put on the brakes. But if you're looking for an example of how the American dream can be achieved or derailed, Driven hums as a cautionary tale. DeLorean's story is bigger than two hours; he spent more than a decade climbing to power on a slippery slope. But the film makes it appear that the arrogant entrepreneur was a rookie in the world of shady deals with criminals, rather than the regular player that history shows he was. Director Nick Hamm hones in on the mogul's toxic friendship with Hoffman, his neighbor with a checkered past. Hamm paints them both as far more sympathetic than either likely deserves. 

It's like Dirty Rotten Scoundrels: Real Life, with both men portrayed as charming and empathetic rogues who simply made a few iffy decisions and now are trying to right the ship. Both hit their moment of absolute desperation at the same time and see the other as a lifeline to escape. Other parties had a role to play in this story as well: the wives, the FBI agent arranging the sting, and a couple of drug smugglers. The film gets really chewy when you start to analyze it on an ethics and culpability scale: Who's "good," who's "bad," and who's complicit?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the main characters in Driven. What made their friendship toxic? How would you describe each of them?

  • Based on the film, do you think DeLorean was framed? Do you think he was not guilty? Can you be framed and also be guilty?

  • How is drug use depicted in the film? Do you think it's glamorized? How about smoking and drinking? Are there consequences for substance use? Why does that matter?

  • How is wealth shown in the movie? How did DeLorean's appearance of being rich help him secure investors? What assumptions do people tend to make about someone who appears to be rich?

  • How accurate do you think this film is to what really happened? Why might filmmakers choose to alter the facts in movies based on real stories?

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