Decades from now, how will these Oscar-bait movies be looked upon? Not fondly, I imagine, as the cultural shift away from the flatlining exploitation of messages and ideals within Driving Miss Daisy were rather one-note and underwhelmed to begin with. Attempting to adapt the importance and impact of the soon-to-flourish Civil Rights movement, Driving Miss Daisy can, at best, offer a weak, watered-down message that will prop its caricatures up as vaguely interesting. That is simply not enough, though, and to take such important points in history and feed them through the lens of Bruce Beresford is an obvious notion that neither cast nor crew thoroughly understand the delicacy of the message or the interest of it either.
A forgettable blip for the Academy Awards, their trailblazing efforts to be behind the times and consistently wrong bagged Driving Miss Daisy the Oscar for Best Picture. While that may be the only memorable moment we can pull out of this Morgan Freeman-led film, it is surprising, considering the cast, just how bland the film is. Never attempting to muse on the cultural state of the times outside of the generic, brief moments that are used as props to the leading narrative, rather than as anything effective or engaging. Freeman is undoubtedly the worst part, but that is only when we consider his roles elsewhere. A spiral away from the quality and consistency he usually provides, his role as Hoke Colburn smacks of cliché and a poor representation of struggles against the ruling class.
This ruling class is defined rather loosely by Jessica Tandy and Dan Aykroyd, who provide the mother and son relationship the film didn’t exactly clamour for. Aykroyd represents the resistance of the time. A refusal to accept the changes of society. He is nothing more than that. We do not learn about his character, nor any character for that matter. Audiences will learn of their message and that alone, the hosts of these themes are not important to Beresford. Neither is anything, it seems, aside from carrying the light weight and few moments of interest to be found between Colburn and the titular Miss Daisy (Tandy).
Relentlessly boring and as bland as the Hollywood machine gets, Driving Miss Daisy is a miserable experience that looks to adapt a message of progress not because it cares, but because it knows it is the style and story award voters will enjoy. A rather brash and callous cash-in on an important period of history, one that has all the muted, broad expectations of such a flaccid and annoying piece. There is no heart or real soul to the message or the performances, a cast and crew that turn in efforts that feel entirely removed from the lack of potential on offer. Perhaps that is for the best, for to care about Driving Miss Daisy and what little it has to say is far worse than not caring at all.