On the left, Barrymore appears with Alien and wears pigtails; on the right, there’s no alien and no pigtails; it can thus be deduced, albeit with a heavy heart, that she stopped being seven.
In mainstream media, we’re not allowed to say that an actress is “no longer seven” unless she owns up to it herself. And here’s the true fact of the matter: I do not know. Can I prove that Drew Barrymore actually stopped being seven years old? No. But I have a hunch. And it’s literally eating me alive from the inside out, and the only momentary respite I can possibly think of is to write about it for Variety. For other actors it’s been a bit more obvious: In both Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men, the fact that the actors were no longer seven was generously made a disclaimer and a warning within the very title. Jane Fonda has outwardly stated she’s not seven by appearing in a series called Grace and Frankie, which is expressly about not being seven. (And I thank her for this honesty, and while I do still find it inconsiderate that her body reminds us of the passage of time, at least she’s not a fucking liar). Emmanuel Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant admitted to not being seven in the film Amour, in which Riva’s character gradually deteriorates and becomes incapacitated, because she is not seven. But with Barrymore we’re simply left guessing. I do it all day long. I go to sleep and I dream of guessing and I wake up and I guess some more.
Drew Barrymore became the literal poster child for children, because she was a child. There was something effortlessly radical about this gesture. You have to realize just how radical it was that this tiny nothing, this useless speck of a person, this being only seven years removed from being a goddamn fetus — a group that has it perhaps the roughest in Hollywood — would suddenly be accepted to co-star in a film by the great Stephen Spielberg alongside a swollen hairless pug puppet. It was transgressive! It was important! Drew, when did your sense of rebellion become so feeble?
The most toxic thing about “not being seven anymore” is the feeling it can create in me that some aspect of my world has changed, that life is slipping away from me — from all of us. It’s not your fault, Drew, you were just brought down by an inclement system that put pressures on you to grow up and thereby ruin your ability to appear alongside charming anthropomorphic turds.
We are our faces, so if you’re a seven year old with a seven year old face, it’s inarguable that it’s inauthentic to stop being seven, and when I look at that wretched grown up “actress” — again, not her fault! — these days, all I sense is duplicity. I’m one of the few critics who loved every second of Home Fries — that is, every second that didn’t include Barrymore’s repugnant not-seven-year-old face. Now, I’m not going to refuse to watch Riding in Cars With Boys, per se, but I can almost guarantee I won’t enjoy this supposedly seminal work as thoroughly as I know I would have, otherwise.