Movies about unlikely friendships are a Hollywood staple. These bonds will cross gender, class, race, and age. The genre has evolved to give audiences buddy cop and “Wunza” movies. Despite the many variations on the friends, they tend to be very formulaic.
Driveways is a character drama about a young boy named Cody (Lucas Jaye). Cody’s aunt April has recently died and he and his mother Kathy (Hong Chau) are cleaning the house out. April’s next door neighbor Del (Brian Dennehy) takes an interest in Cody, leading to a surprising friendship.
The most important part of a movie dealing with a new friendship are the people. Whether it is a frantic comedy or a deep story, if audiences are not interested in the cast, the movie will fail. Cody and Del are intriguing characters, though it may take a while to develop a significant bond with viewers.
The story moves at a methodical pace. This is a slice of life drama that is more about the little moments than big set pieces. Cody and Del (and to a lesser extent, Kathy) begin to bond almost immediately. The time the two spend together is touching. There is no epic moment that brings the two together. Their friendship is a natural one.
Driveways is beautiful in its simplicity. A simple handmade birthday invitation or a basic pizza party shed great insight into the characters. Directed by Andrew Ahn and written by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, the story never jumps headfirst into any of the themes it touches on. There is subtle racism and a definite idea of the fear of being alone, but the writing never sensationalizes any of it. This prevents any of the eye rolling or melodramatic moments typically found in these types of movies.
Dennehy is outstanding in one of his final roles. Much like the rest of Driveways, Del is laid back and restrained. He seems to be worn down by the weight of the world, but has learned how to live a happy life. Going against the war veteran who refuses to let go of the past trope, he is a person who wants to help Cody come out of his shell. Dennehy gives a great monologue at the end that is the highlight of the film
Driveways is a tender movie that will captivate its audience. The movie never allows itself to worry about delivering that one big moment. Instead, it uses small intimate scenes to set up a heartwarming finale. In the process, it tells a deeply moving story.