Cinemalphabet: D is for Drive Me Crazy (1999)
Todd Strasser – a prolific and extremely talented YA novelist – created a witty series called “Time Zone High” chronicling the lives of a group of teens from Timothy Zonin High in several novels: How I Spent My Last Night on Earth and the horribly adapted How I Created the Perfect Prom Date. Strasser’s body of work is not limited to these novels, but also includes the truly sublime pair of novels – Workin’ for Peanuts and A Very Touchy Subject which tackle the challenges of growing up male the way Blume does for gals.
All this chow chow is to make you aware that prior to its WB-like transformation, Drive Me Crazy had been a wonderfully witty teen book known by a much better title. Everything wrong with this adaptation can be traced to its depiction of female characters. Female characters, who are generally featured in complex and actualized ways in Strasser’s prose are rendered flat, shrill and vapid on the screen. The character played by a pre-Heroes Ali Larter somehow has transformed from a thoughtful and intriguing juxtaposition to Melissa Joan Hart’s character, to a mean spirited, stock high school “slut”. That said, I find Drive Me Crazy a cut above the average forgettable teen flick. It’s mindless, cheesy fun, which isn’t going to change your life, but it probably make it any worse either.