...A Little Pink Gem "Little Drew Barrymore Circa 1984"
Happy 35th Anniversary to “Irreconcilable Differences” (1984). Starring Old Hollywood royalty’s littlest gem, actress Drew Barrymore, this movie infinitely sparkles. Watch it wearing your '80s Ray-Ban glasses.
Now Old Hollywood royalty is a unique bunch. Actress Drew Barrymore is no exception. Born in 1975, she arguably shouldn't even be CALLED Old Hollywood royalty. Still, her dusty, celestial lineage paints a compelling case: She’s the daughter of actor John Drew Barrymore of the film “High School Confidential” (1958), the granddaughter of hugely popular 1930s actor John Barrymore, and the grandniece of famous 1920s silent actor Lionel Barrymore and actress Ethel Barrymore. The latter made her first “flicker” (as early films were called) in the Stone Age year of 1914. Impressive! Now anyone worth their “earth-salt” knew and loved little Drew Barrymore in the “alien” tearjerker “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982). And everyone was awed by her character’s supernatural powers in “Firestarter” (1984). But Drew Barrymore also lights up the screen in the 1984 dramedy “Irreconcilable Differences.” This film is a treasure, and a true platform for our budding princess to shine, as she grandly dusts off her family’s Old Hollywood diamond-studded crown.
Drew Barrymore plays nine-year-old Casey Brodsky, the daughter of famous Hollywood film director Albert Brodsky and best-selling novelist Lucy van Patten Brodsky, played by the superb Ryan O’Neal and Shelley Long respectively. The premise? Little Casey wants to get divorced from her parents, and become emancipated. In a touching courtroom scene, she explains that her self-absorbed parents are “too mixed up for anybody to be around.” She compares their treatment of her to a dog, and affirms that a child should be treated like a human being, and not like a pet. She would like to live permanently with the family maid, Maria Hernandez, with whom Casey has formed a close bond.
Drew Barrymore is pitch-perfect. She cuts through the possibly non-relatable premise of a young Hollywood girl wanting to get divorced from her Hollywood parents and brings forth a universal desire: Children want to be treated with dignity and fairness, just like grown-up people do. Her delivery is solemn and vulnerable. It’s beyond heartrending. Where are the tissues?
“Irreconcilable Differences” is a sweet, touching movie about family and “the good, the bad and the ugly” (to quote a great Old Hollywood film title). This movie makes you laugh, cry. It does everything you’d want a movie to do. It’s an ‘80s cautionary tale on Hollywood excess, greed, and self-entitlement, and how these vices can break apart the most special of bonds. But, there’s also forgiveness. Casey wins her court case, but afterward, she becomes closer to her parents. All is not lost. Families can break apart, but still come back together, just in a different way than before.
Importantly, “Irreconcilable Differences” shows that Old Hollywood is not dead. HALLELUJAH. Drew Barrymore is a new star in the sky, a little pink diamond shining up there next to the silver ones of her long-gone family. And, lucky for us, she continues to shine today.