‘The Longest Ride’ Review: Conventional Romantic Drama Saved with WWII Storyline
Sitting through The Longest Ride was by far the biggest challenge in my career doing movie reviews. This is apparently a way for 20th Century Fox – the film’s distributor – to go back to its roots of doing sophisticated dramas, which was their specialty during the golden age of filmmaking. This Scott Eastwood/Brit Robertson vehicle is based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. Sparks’ film adaptations have not gotten much love from movie critics, mainly because they follow the same formula over and over again. But luckily, this gives the formula a new spin, this time it talks about a romance from the past as well as the usual present-day romance.
We begin the story with a bull-riding show being watched by a college student named Sophia Danko (Robertson). There she sees a professional bull rider from North Carolina named Luke Collins (Eastwood). Collins drops his hat after the 8 seconds he uses to ride the bull are up. As Sophia tries to give Collins his hat, he says to her “keep it”, thus beginning their loving relationship. Sophia then spends time dating Luke near his house located on the North Carolinian countryside, which by the way is represented in the film with care and without demeaning or defaming it in any way, shape, or form. As they drive back to Sophia’s Sorority house, they both witness a car going up in flames. In it is an elderly widower named Ira (Alan Alda), a famous art collector and World War II veteran. Not only are they able to rescue the man himself, but they also successfully rescue his collection of letters that he wrote to his late wife, Ruth before and after the war. Little does the young couple know that not their relationship isn’t all fun and games. There are obstacles Ira and his wife encountered with their long relationship, and Sophia also realizes that she and Luke are having the same kind of relationship.
These two stories flow greatly together, as they compare and contrast both relationships, my favorite scenes though take place during the 20th century, because I personally thought I was watching a period piece (which in a way, it is). That pretty much made the movie for me, as well as the fact that the film pretty much celebrates small town America. My only quibbles, you would think they would lay off on the sex scenes in a PG-13 film (although they’re tame compare to the R-rated Fifty Shades of Grey, which I refuse to see), and the film would have been better off without them. Overall, the film actually turned out to be pretty good. Even though it’s your typical Nicholas Sparks chick flick, the scenes taking place in the past made the film worthwhile.
Final Grade: B