Okay, let’s just get this out of the way at the top: the title. It’s a god-awful title that has no business being attached to a movie released in 2020. It sounds like the kind of thing a racist grandma would whisper to you, rolling her eyes, “Lady doctor” she’d say, as if that put her whole cancer diagnosis into question, like maybe that lady doctor was just on her period or something. Lady driver? As if she could barely handle the steering wheel with those delicate hands of hers, as if her stilettos would make for awkward working of the pedals, as if her manicure might chip from too much shifting. As if she doesn’t even have space in her undersized brain for anything other than making babies and making sandwiches. Lady Driver? Lady Driver? The only way this makes any sense at all is as an attempt to recall the excellent film Baby Driver, which only means that I’m further inflamed, as a woman and as a movie lover. In fact, you are encouraged to call female doctors ‘doctors’ and female firefighters ‘firefighters’ and female drivers ‘drivers’.
On to the movie. Which is about a girl, Ellie (Grace Van Dien), who learns to drive. As you do when you’re 16. And then she proceeds to steal the shop class car and run away from home, to “Uncle Tim,” her dead dad’s brother, long since estranged from the family. Ellie and her mom are having some pretty major conflicts so it’s agreed that she’ll stay with Tim (Sean Patrick Flanery) for the summer, working in his mechanic auto-shop. Except under a dusty tarp in the shop is a race car, and Ellie is drawn to it like her bra is lined with magnets. Sure she just got her driver’s license yesterday and she’s never seen a stick shift before – is that a reason she can’t race? Nope! She’s a lady driver after all. She just has to keep it secret from her wet blanket mother who’s a little touchy on the subject since “it’s dangerous” and “you’re a child” and “that’s how your father died” and similar lame mom excuses.
Anyway, if you’re willing to accept in your heart that driving is genetic and that girls can do it too, this movie is probably still not for you. It’s just not very good. But if you like dirt tracks and low expectations, this movie is “free” (with paid subscription) on Netflix so your risk is low. Perhaps not low enough, and that’s a totally understandable position to take, particularly if your worldview is already wide enough that you already think of lady drivers as just “drivers” in your head.