Starring: Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin, Melissa Benoist, Lolita Davidovich
Directed By: George Tillman Jr.
Written By: Craig Bolotin, Nicholas Sparks
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 19 min
Based on a Nicholas Sparks romance novel, The Longest Ride lands in our theaters having somehow escaped its rightful home on TV. It’s a Lifetime channel movie, loaded with predictable contrivances and Hallmark moments, seemingly sponsored by Bud Light. Endeavoring to squeeze as much melodrama as possible out of its two love stories from two time periods. It’s also for some unfathomable reason, over 2 hours long!
There were moments during my screening when I thought time had stopped, as this movie never seemed to be heading to a conclusion. It just droned on and on, seemingly never ending. Two shallow romance stories for the price of one movie ticket. Placing pretty people in mildly difficult (and easily avoidable) situations in the hope of generating some chemistry the audience could connect with. Like the makers of this film figured they had gathered all the right ingredients for the perfect romance movie. But the end result turned out to be too sweet and incredibly dry.
Performances? Were decent, Scott Eastwood (son of Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood) is more than just a pretty face playing cowboy. In fact, his bull riding scenes were the most effective and best shot moments in the film. Britt Robertson is also good as the girl from a different world, and the couple do generate a limited amount of chemistry despite the sappy material they have to work with.
In the final analysis however, The Longest Ride is purely for fans of pulpy romance novels. It doesn’t seek to challenge the audience, and keeps its tale of love and sacrifice as simplistic as possible. It’s easy to watch and digest, and just as easy to forget. Though I did learn a few things about the world of bull riding. So the experience wasn’t a complete waste of time.
If you’re a fan of Nicholas Sparks’ novels, and enjoyed films like The Notebook, then you’ll probably enjoy this too. Expect a long predictable ride!
Despite some great bull riding moments and pretty aerial shots of South Carolina, this is still a TV movie, and should be watched on one.
Best Moment: << mild spoiler >>
Towards the end of the film, Luke (Scott Eastwood) rides a bull that once badly injured him during a competition. Throughout The Longest Ride, the bull riding action was easily the most engaging element in the film, and this final ride was the best. Gorgeously filmed in slow motion, cinematographer David Tattersall really captures the beauty and violence of the moment. And you would not believe how much saliva comes flying out of the bull’s mouth during one of these events!