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Driveways

May 24, 2020

Del is a vet with a story or two; Cody is just 9, his real story beginning with neighbor Del.

Driveways

Grade: A-

Director: Andrew Ahn (Spa Night)

Screenplay: Hannah Bos (Mozart in the Jungle), Paul Thureen

Cast: Hong Chau (Watchmen), Brian Dennehy

Rating: NR

Runtime: 1h 23m

By: John DeSando

“Drive a little slower. Take your time. Take a good look at stuff.” Del (Brian Dennehy)

Driveways is a Netflix film taking its time letting us know that friendship and love have no racial or age boundaries. We’ve seen this motif before: 8-year-old Cody befriends laconic octogenarian neighbor Del (it’s not too much Gran Torino or UP) with the least sentimentality among the three and the least dialogue.

Yet, the love that envelops them, even with Cody’s single Asian-American mom, Kathy (Hong Chau), who is not a stirring mother, is so unprepossessing that like Cody at his 9th birthday, life has happened in small increments, almost imperceptibly. The life including bullying kids and cleaning up a recently-deceased Aunt’s mess of a home takes on a romantic sheen as the duo experience kindly neighbors and a comfortably-cleaned home.

In a small way it’s like Seinfeld without the laughs—it’s about nothing or rather the little things of life that begin to make up a happy life. Firecrackers in the backyard by the bully boys seem more like a celebration of a new life for Kathy and Cody than a bombardment. It’s also a fine addition to the coming-of-age canon, a staple from Star Wars through Driveways.

It’s one of Brian Dennehy’s last roles (he recently died), but one of his finest because it doesn’t require him to use his former football- player heft or his menacing sheriff mien as in First Blood. The friendship between Cody and veteran Del is the real deal. Del has one nostalgic speech that you wish more of because he is talking, as in the opening quote, about enjoying the small parts of life whether you’re 8 or 80.

“Small” as in Driveways, where the titular constructions are more than the separation between suburban homes—they’re what binds them.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JohnDeSando62@gmail.com.