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The best Drew Barrymore films currently streaming on Netflix

“Life is very interesting. In the end, some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.”

Drew Barrymore, one of the most influential actresses of her generation, has always been the cover girl of how fame ruins one’s childhood. While her personal life has been the gossip buzz of numerous tabloids, Barrymore’s talent, as well as resilience, has helped her bounce back and flaunt her incredible acting skills in all their glory. Having started acting at the age of eleven months after she managed to smile even after being nipped by a dog during a dog food commercial, Barrymore’s innate talent in acting was felt at the very beginning. 

Born to a family that boasted of prolific actors across generations, the most notable one being her father John Barrymore, Drew was bound to become an actress. She has often recounted her cold and distant relationship with her father who was mainly absent during her formative years. 

Barrymore’s breakthrough role was in her Godfather Steven Spielberg’s film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. She started garnering public attention who was extremely taken aback by her sheer talent and naturalistic acting. Barrymore became emancipated at 14. Being a child actor, her private life was always under public scrutiny and she was constantly hounded by the frantic media. Drug-fuelled life and constant partying at nightclubs led her to be sent to rehab several times before she was sent to live at David Crosby’s home; the singer spoke of how essential it was for her to be with people who were living a life of sobriety.  Barrymore has spoken of her struggles with fame and substance abuse in her memoir Little girl Lost.

Barrymore, despite various upheavals, never lost her acting prowess. Flashing a sweet smile that was complemented by her heart-shaped face and blonde hair, she was always a delight at interviews, never failing to speak her mind regarding her experiences and inhibitions. Barrymore is the Ambassador against hunger for the UN. Not only is she an actress, producer as well as talk show host of a show she launched last year during the pandemic but also a cosmetics mogul, where under the Flower banner she sells makeup, eyewear and perfume. She also has a clothing line, winery and boasts of a wonderful writing career, having written various autobiographical accounts about life in Hollywood. 

Today, as Barrymore turns 46, we take a look at some of her best films available on Netflix. While we have a bone to pick with the streaming platform for not streaming some of her very best flicks including Poison Ivy, Music and Lyrics, Never Been Kissed and above all, Donnie Darko, here are some of her best films streaming on Netflix.  

Drew Barrymore films streaming on Netflix:

5. 50 First Dates (Peter Segal, 2004)

With a plot somewhat similar to The Vow (though it released later, it is somehow more popular), this film is quite cheeky and heartwarming. Featuring Barrymore and Adam Sandler, it revolves around a womanising veterinarian henry who meets an art teacher named Lucy who suffers from anterograde amnesia as a result of a car accident which makes her forget everything, even Henry despite them having met for breakfast. Head over heels in love with her, henry decides to go out of his way and win her over and remind her of their relationship using video journaling in form of tapes. 

Barrymore was extremely impressed with the script and wrote a letter to past collaborator Adam Sandler to join her in this venture after The Wedding Singer. While the somewhat lucid plot is overwhelmed by incessant drug jokes and crass humour, it is somewhat warm and funny. Sandler’s romantic side is exposed in this film which is soft and rare and adds to the film’s charm. 

“Sharks are like dogs; they only bite when you touch their private parts.”

4. He’s Not Just That Into You (Ken Kwapis, 2009)

The film revolves around a string of modern relationships and the complexities and tribulations that come with it in the lives of Baltimore-based young friends and lovers. Barrymore plays Mary who works at a local gay newspaper and is surrounded by gay men. She tries hard to spice up her dating life by meeting men but nothing comes of it. She later meets Kevin Connolly’s Connor and starts dating him. 

While the film boasts of a brilliant ensemble like Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Bradley Cooper, Scarlet Johannsson and more, the lack of character development makes it a failed version of a wannabe Love Actually. While most rom-coms are based in and out of the classic New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago, this film is quite refreshing due to its changed setting of Baltimore. While it upholds the banalities of modern love, it is somehow too cantankerous and could have fared better by focusing on the characters a lot more. 

“The only reason he can miss you is because he’s choosing, every day, not to be with you.”

3. Riding in Cars with Boys (Penny Marshall, 2001)

Based on Beverly Donoforio’s autobiographical memoir, the film focuses on the titular character whose tumultuous life sees success in the end due to her perseverance and hard work. Beverley gets pregnant as a teen which causes her to miss out on her education, embittering her. It takes years for her to get her life back on track while struggling to keep up with a sassy son, a heroin-addicted husband as well as a strict, old-school police officer father. Her only support system is her best friend Fay. 

Barrymore plays the lead role of a young mother disillusioned with motherhood, nearly hating her son for ruining her life. She delivers an incredible performance that has received high praise from critics. Her character is not unsympathetic; Barrymore’s portrayal makes one love her despite her poor mothering and innate selfishness. However, can someone really blame her for trying to merely pursue her dreams? 

“One day can make your life. One day can ruin your life. All life is, is four or five big days that change everything.”

2. Scream (Wes Craven, 1996)

Drew Barrymore played the role of a blonde, sweet-natured teenager Casey Becker, who was gearing up to watch some films by making some popcorn in her beautiful country home with large glass doors and windows. After the masked Ghostface calls her, she rejects his curious advances, before finally giving in to his charming voice. As they talk horror films, Freddy Kreuger and Michael Myers, “more of a game, really”, the killer suddenly asks Casey what she looks like as he would like to know who he is “looking at”.  This scares Casey who frantically tries to escape the killer, without avail. She soon finds her boyfriend tied up in a chair and brutally killed. Within just 15 minutes, Barrymore’s Casey gets gutted and hung from a tree branch, moments before her parents return.

Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) remains one of the scariest and most gruesome slasher flicks of all time. With the maniacal killer Ghostface,r high on bloodlust, on the loose, the franchise’s atmospheric horror coupled with gore and violence is extremely shocking to the viewers.  Fun fact, Barrymore had called up 911 several times on accident while filming this scene as the operator had forgotten to disconnect the phone line. 

“There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie.” 

1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)

After his parents’ divorce, Steven Spielberg had made an imaginary friend after whom he modelled the concept of his famous film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The film begins with alien botanists having to flee California forests after being pursued by government agents before one of them stays back. E.T. forges a friendship with a 10-year-old Elliott Thompson who gradually finds himself being associated with the alien completely. However, time is running out and E.T. must reach home lest he dies and Elliott will go to any length to save him. 

With Henry Thomas as Elliott, Barrymore appeared as his younger sister Gertie who gave the chrysanthemum to E.T. as his parting gift. The film is an emotional rollercoaster. To see a young and lonely boy forge a friendship with an otherworldy being would have never been this special had Spielberg not cast his magic. 

“I’ll be right here.”

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