If you thought the world of “Fast and Furious” was ridiculous and unbelievable, just wait, there’s a Nicholas Sparks movie out this week.
“The Longest Ride” is the latest Nicholas Sparks book to make it to the big screen this time about a bull ridin’ cowboy and an art lovin’ gal from up north. When their lives end up intersecting with a man whose past love story impacts them in ways they never saw coming. Which is strange, considering the audience likely saw it coming before we even pulled into the Cinema 16 parking lot. Yeah, Nicholas Sparks movies follow a pretty well worn formula at this point. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it’s a formula you can stomach. But just know with Sparks you’re getting the down the line syrupy, head in the clouds, extreme romanticism, with some sort of bizarre or ridiculous twist in there somewhere. You can probably guess where I land.
Not that I don’t like a good romance, butterflies and googly eyes can be fine here and there, it’s a real part of human existence. I even thought that this one more than most Sparks fare had some interesting themes on sacrifice and commitment that don’t usually show up in these films. And there are some heartfelt pieces outside of the romance stories about the pain and payoff of investing in peoples lives that actually have some decent emotional truth to them. And yet you’re once again likely to finish the film feeling your own romance or marriage is on the dull side after comparing it to the two stories told in this tale.
And that’s my main philosophical issue with the film, it’s romance porn. A completely unrealistic idea of how most great relationships are forged. I get that it’s a movie, and that’s fine, but over time that subliminal message that love must always be a hot burning fire, can stick. When in reality the strongest parts of love might just be those moments when you can’t seem to find the flame. Of course, it might be different if it were a better made movie. But the pacing and structure of the dual stories make them both seem more boring and drawn out than they should be, making the dueling tales feel a bit tedious and under developed. The acting is rough too. I mean, relative unknowns Brittany Robertson and Scott Eastwood are giving it their best shot as the leads, but there’s just so much contrivance here it’s hard to buy into. And you can just feel the rest of the cast, including Alan Alda, struggling to make something out of these love story cliches, but there just never seems to be any kind of authenticity escaping from the screen.
Overall, “The Longest Ride”, though more palatable than you might think, is still a Nicholas Sparks story at it’s heart. Even with a few non-romance parts bringing some real emotion to the story, it still couldn’t escape the overall fantasyland mentality, and mediocre story telling to ride this bull to anything better than a C-