“The Longest Ride” is the latest adaption of a Nicholas Sparks novel, and when I hear his name, two words cross my mind: unintentional comedy.
That’s definitely the case again with this movie, but it’s not nearly as schmaltzy as previous adaptations have been. I wish that were saying something.
“The Longest Ride” stars Scott Eastwood (son of Clint) as Luke, a former champion bull rider looking to stage a comeback, and Britt Robertson as Sophia, a college student with a promising internship at an art museum. They have a date one night, during which they encounter an elderly man named Ira (Alan Alda) in a car accident. During Ira’s stay in the hospital, Sophia saves his most precious possession: a box full of old letters he wrote his sweetheart, Ruth (Oona Chaplin).
The movie goes back and forth between Sophia and Luke’s romance with Ira’s flashbacks to how he met and married Ruth. Alda squeezes in a few good moments, but the rest of the cast is not nearly as convincing or fleshed out. Eastwood definitely has his dad’s looks but is sorely lacking in talent.
Another problem with the movie is the rehashing of durable, old, romantic clichés such as Sophia wanting to choose between her job and her love for Luke. He faces the same dilemma between bull riding and her. Anybody with enough common sense can almost see this coming a mile away. I think I pretty much gave away the climax.
You’re not going to see much in “The Longest Ride” that you haven’t seen in a lot of other films based on Sparks books, including “The Notebook,” “A Walk to Remember” or “Dear John.” This movie may not quite be the unintentional laughingstock of previous films in this genre, but it’s sure close to joining that club.
“The Longest Ride” is contrived, formulaic, forced and so syrupy sentimental that you’ll be expecting to get a cavity.
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in south Georgia.