Review: The Longest Ride Is One Heck Of A Long Ride
Title: The Longest Ride
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Screenwriter: Craig Bolotin and Nicholas Sparks (novel)
Principal Cast: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, and Oona Chaplin
Summary: The lives of a young couple intertwined with a much older man as be reflected back on a lost love while he’s trapped in an automobile crash. — via IMDB
I’m not sure if if it’s obvious from previous reviews, but despite being a woman I’m about as far from the target audience of a Nicholas Sparks movie as possible. I can’t think of a single occasion that I’ve enjoyed anything that has his name attached, and if I really want to cry I’ll just re-watch the last half hour of Big Fish. This is one of the rare occasions that I’ve gone into a movie without knowing anything about it. I didn’t even know the running time until someone told me in the theater, which spawned a lot of jokes amongst my fellow film critics about the title.
The Longest Ride is a terrible title that explains the overly long running time of this movie as it tells two different stories, only one of which is mediocre at best.
I’m going to talk about that title for a moment because it’s something that A: is an important issue that needs to be addressed and B: hilarious because I have the humor of a fourteen year old boy. The Longest Ride probably refers to the fact that the main character of Luke (Scott Eastwood) is a bull rider (I think). I’m not entirely sure because if the movie clarifies this in any way it was one of the many moments where I just zoned out. The problem is that “title” is something that can easily get turned into a stupid joke or puny article title.
For example, you could channel The Office and say “The Longest Ride; that’s what she said” or pull a Quagmire from Family Guy and say “I’ll give you The Longest Ride”. Then there are the many critics who are going to make a joke about the two and a half hour long running time for an easy headline joke. The title of your movie is important, and much like when Star Trek Into Darkness came out; a stupid title can be very distracting. It’s like having a bad poster or cover art for a book or video game, it makes marketing much harder. If someone releases a terribly photoshopped poster for a movie, then that is what people are going to talk about.
There really isn’t an excuse for a running time this long for a movie that is intended for date night, but the reason the movie runs so long is that there are two stories being told. There is the “main” story of Sophia (Britt Robertson) and Luke as they fall madly in love in the span of about two months. The second story is a flashback story of his relationship with his late wife being told by Ira (Alan Alda) to Sophia after she and Luke save him from a car crash. The stories have parallels; Ruth (Oona Chaplin) loves art much like Sophia does while Ira (Jack Huston) isn’t so interested in that sort of thing like Luke is, but they really only interact at the very end of the movie. The problem is that Ira and Ruth’s story that covers pre and post war America is much more interesting than Sophia and Luke’s story. I would even argue that Ira and Ruth’s story could have been fleshed out and the entire movie could have been a shortened version of Sophia and Luke as the bookends.
Much like While We’re Young this movie also brings up how having children is the only thing that matters. There is a great moment between Ira and Ruth when he tells her that she is his family and that’s all that matters. That isn’t enough for Ruth, though, and it’s almost the catalyst for their divorce. The movie is littered with the same thing you’d expect from a Nicholas Sparks productions; samey white people making googly eyes at each other while very obvious cues tell the audience when they are supposed to be sad. I even started to doodle at one point like I used to in grade school because I was so bored.
The Longest Ride is about 45% a mediocre movie whenever the flashbacks start, but whenever we switch back to the modern world the duel stories keep everyone from evolving much beyond a caricature thus sucking any and all emotion from the proceedings. It isn’t bad enough to be offensive as much as it is just forgettable and boring. The Longest Ride? More like the longest two and a half hours of my life. (See what I did there?)