I guess it’s that time of the season, that time when the young actors that make-up the holy triumvirate of the Harry Potter movies stretch their wings and try some non-magical roles. A big fuss has been made recently about Daniel Radcliffe’s choice to play a part in a London play that evolves partial nudity, but I say good for him for putting himself out there, literally. Emma Watson has yet to choose a post-Potter project, but I doubt that she hasn’t had offers. Which brings us to Rupert Grint, better known to about a billion kids globally as Ron Weasley. He decided to step out of Hogwarts and into a delightful British comedy called Driving Lessons.
Grint plays Ben, a young man who’s marshalled around by his controlling mother Laura (Laura Linney) who never lets him out of reach of her metaphorical apron strings. Ben’s family has taken in a man named Mr. Fincham and Laura suggests that everyone in the family donate to the effort to get the old guy back on his feet. Ben answers an ad for a retired actress looking for an assistant. Dame Evie Walton (Julie Walters) proves a little too hot to handle at first for Ben, but the two become good friends regardless. Because of Evie, Ben begins to pull away from his controlling mother and this does not sit well in the slightest, especially when Ben goes with Evie to a festival in Edinburgh over his mother’s wishes.
There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about Driving Lessons, just some really funny material and some hilarious performances. I know, what a drag. And if you’re a fan of British comedies like Calendar Girls and Kinky Boots, then chances are you’re really going to like this one too. Walters is appropriately campy and ever so slightly over the top as Evie, while Linney perfectly fills the shoes of the typically over-protective British mom that fires off warnings about cell phones causing cancer and thus being inappropriate for possession. Grint seems a little out of element at times, which is odd given the fact that he’s playing against Mama Weasley Walters, but he does eventually show signs of that great comedic timing he has in the Harry Potter movies as Ron.
For Brit comedy fans, there’s a wonderfully saucy and occasionally dark humoured film here that will keep you stitches for an hour and a half. For the curious, there’s the chance to see the boy who is Ron Weasley play an entirely different type of sidekick. Lots of laughs await you when you take in this wonderful little slice of English jest.