Take a Drink: every time Luke touches his belt buckle.
Take a Drink: every time someone says, “The box.”
Do a Shot: when Luke and Sophia have un-steamy sex in the shower.
Do a Shot: every time it rains.
Shotgun a Beer: when the two hearts/desire song plays.
By: Amelia Solomon (Four Beers) –
Setting all obvious porn jokes aside, The Longest Ride is about Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood), a North Carolina bull rider, who falls for a Wake Forest University sorority girl, named Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson). They embark on a love affair, even though they have absolutely nothing in common. Based on the novel of the same name, written by Nicholas Sparks, the film follows the traditional Sparks formula full of forbidden love, washboard abs, and the always predictable happy ending, while cramming the theme of true love down our throats.
On their first date, Luke and Sophia come across a car wreck. The strapping young man that he is, Luke rescues an old man who is passed out at the wheel, just before his car explodes. The unconscious man wakes for a moment to say, “The box”, and Sophia grabs what looks like a picnic basket out of the car. While the hurt man is being worked on in the ER, Sophia snoops in the box and discovers hundreds of letters written to the man’s wife, Ruth (Oona Chaplin). Cue the second congruent storyline of true love set against the backdrop of World War II. The old man, Ira Levinson (Alan Alda) befriends Sophia, and she visits him to read him his sacred letters. It turns out that when Ira was young (Jack Huston) he was just a country bumpkin that fell for Ruth, an educated Austrian woman who loved art. Their story echoes the one of Sophia, an art major, and Luke, a rough cowboy. Will Ira and Ruth’s story affect Luke and Sophia and teach them not to give up on their feelings for one another?
Alan Alda, who plays the older Ira Levinson, delivers a solid performance as a cranky old man who no longer has much to live for without his beloved wife, Ruth. Alda gives clout to a weak romance film and helps lift the scenes in which he’s in to watchable. His iconic voice also helps soothe the viewer and, with the exception of Morgan Freeman and James Earl Jones, there’s no one else I’d rather hear tell me stories from the past. Jack Huston, who plays the younger Ira Levinson, also gives depth to the character of Ira and shows why an educated Austrian would fall for such a small town country boy.
Scott Eastwood’s deep blue eyes command the screen, and he has the appeal and look of a famous movie star. He’s so easy to watch, that it makes sitting through this over two hour film tolerable.
Director George Tillman Jr. highlights the North Carolina landscape beautifully from awesome green mountains to wraparound front porches. He also showcases the professional bull riding industry with all its dirt and danger in an exciting fashion.
A film like this depends on chemistry between its leads to sell the story. But Eastwood and Robertson have no chemistry whatsoever. Their scenes are downright awkward and made me cringe. Robertson seems like a naive young child and Eastwood a grown man, who’s been around the block a time or two. The fault here lies with the casting, and I believe the film would have worked much better with a different actress in the role of Sophia.
There’s no denying that Scott Eastwood is gorgeous and that he strongly resembles his father, Clint Eastwood. With a penetrating stare, tip of his cowboy hat, or smile he embodies the all American cowboy. But I couldn’t get past his handsome looks to decipher if he can act or not. With Eastwood solely relying on his features, there isn’t much else that went into the character of Luke. He’s reticent and stubborn, and I wasn’t sure if that was how the character was written or because Eastwood doesn’t have the talent to give a layered performance. It’s possible Eastwood could grow as an actor and come into his own, but I didn’t see raw talent here, just simple nepotism.
When your characters speak lines like, “No one has ever done anything like this for me before,” there’s no escaping cliches and predictability. When I re-looked at my notes after viewing the film and saw that I wrote down, “I want to vomit in the first five minutes,” and “Gag me with a spoon,” among other sentences I can’t repeat, I realized that this was not a good representation of a romantic genre film. With The Notebook always being the standard for Sparks to live up to, it makes it difficult for any Sparks film that has come after it to stand out as different and unique. Maybe he should have quit a long time ago, but somehow these films still make money, and Hollywood loves regurgitation.
If you want to sit in an empty theater and contemplate why the only other two patrons are hysterically laughing at things that weren’t even supposed to be funny, and not in an ironic way, then see The Longest Ride.