THE LONGEST RIDE
*1/2 (out of 5)
April 10, 2015
Britt Robertson as SOPHIA DANKO
Scott Eastwood as LUKE COLLINS
Alan Alda as IRA LEVINSON
Jack Huston as YOUNG IRA
Oona Chaplin as YOUNG RUTH
Melissa Benoist as MARCIA
Lolita Davidovich as KATE COLLINS
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: George Tillman Jr.
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Another Nicholas Sparks movie? Seriously? Another freaking Nicholas Sparks movie???
Oh, tell me, lord… what is he going to do different this time? Will it be about something other than a rich girl falling in love with a blue-collar working-class guy? Will it involve something more than sepia-toned shots of the beautiful American South? Will we see something other than a two-dimensional male love interest with washboard abs and a romance novel face? Will we be free from trying to guess which character (usually a guy and usually a father or father figure) will die by the end of the film?
Probably not. Why? Because Nicholas Sparks is a talentless hack whose dullard storytelling managed to hit a stride with modern audiences. They amount to nothing more than romance novels, and not even good ones at that.
In fact, Sparks’ stories have become so hackneyed that they are simply a three-card monte trick featuring a handful of elements in ever-so-slightly different situations. Case in point: this list of tropes mentioned in the second paragraphs are not written to be spoilers for the film but rather things that happen in EVERY SINGLE ONE OF HIS GODDAMN FILMS!
However, even now as Nicholas Sparks continues to count his money like Scrooge McDuck in a gold-plated bank vault in the underground lair beneath his palatial Savannah mansion, he is a man clearly going insane. He continues to write stories, convinced they are original and different, yet they tread the same ground like a pop culture diva trying to reinvent herself every few years.
The trouble is that eventually people get tired of this nonsense and the work becomes a caricature of itself. If you disagree, let me direct your attention to Madonna and Michael Bay, two figures who the general audience has tired of in recent year. They’re the modern equivalent of Leif Garrett, leading a now-pathetic life on VH1 specials and retro nostalgia shows.
All of this describes “The Longest Ride,” which is nothing more than a swapped out story element version of “The Best of Me”… or “Safe Haven”… or “The Lucky One”… or the dozen other Nicholas Sparks movies out there.
Bottom line, if you love Sparks’ movies (and with as much vitriol as I have spewed in this review so far, I don’t blame you… we all like our fair share of dreck), then bring the tissues and weep openly with the other emotionally brittle women in the audience. However, if you’re like me and have tired of this corny, cheesy, predictable formula, “The Longest Ride” will be the longest 2 hours and 8 minutes of your life. (Yes, you read that correctly… this movie clocks in well over two hours.)
The story follows a bull rider (Scott Eastwood) with a head injury who is ignoring his health to become the best in his field. He falls in love with an art school beauty (Britt Robertson), and their worlds collide. While their romance is blooming, they meet Ira (Alan Alda), an alarmingly old man (seriously… if you do the math, he’s well past 95 years old in this movie) who carries a box of love letters to his late wife. As the couple read Ira’s love letters, they learn more about their parallel relationships and learn something from it.
The biggest problem with these modern Nicholas Sparks movies is they have been making less and less sense. The story presents impossible questions to answer if you think any farther than Scott Eastwood’s physique without his shirt on. Why is the hospital making Ira eat mere hours after he woke up from a coma? Why has Ira written dozens of letters to his wife about events that they both obviously experienced? Why is a girl going to school in North Carolina and goes to rodeos clueless about real-life cowboys? Why does Ira’s wife, a born-and-bred Austrian immigrant, sound like she’s hacking through an accent with the finesse of a woman chewing on jawbreaker candies?
Sure, these are silly questions that don’t mean a whole lot in the grander scheme of things. However, like the idiotically-placed cat in “The Best of Me” and the ridiculous deus ex machina ending, this film displays lazy writing and wooden acting with the worst story elements possible.
But damn, if the cinematography isn’t beautiful.