Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson take a time out from saddle sores in The Longest Ride.

Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson take a time out from saddle sores in The Longest Ride.

Reel Reviews: Bullish love story The Longest Ride has its ‘Sparks’

The Notebook becomes the 'Box Full of Letters', or 'Urbane Cowboy', in new Nicholas Sparks' film adaptation, The Longest Ride.

Luke (Scott Eastwood) is a handsome young cowboy, set on becoming a champion bull rider. Sophia (Britt Robertson) is a pretty art student about to graduate college and move to a prestigious internship at a gallery in New York.

Coming from two very different worlds, the unlikely couple might not have hit it off if it wasn’t for their happening across a car accident involving Ira (Alan Alda), an elderly widower with a box full of love letters in his car.

Through getting to know Ira, his letters and the story of his love live, Luke and Sophia are brought closer together. Now the only thing standing in the way of happily ever after is a nasty bull and eight seconds of peril.

We say, “The Notebook becomes the Box Full of Letters.”

TAYLOR: In The Notebook, which is great by the way, an elderly man reads the story of his life to his wife who has dementia, so that she might remember their time together. In The Longest Ride, an elderly man has the story of his life read back to him so that a young couple might realize the power of love overcomes all obstacles. Although it is a very similar film, it is a return to a concept that works.

Happily, like other recent films written by sap factory Nicholas Sparks, this film doesn’t have a creepy element, like the hero stalks the damsel (The Lucky One) or the damsel has a disturbing past (Safe Haven). The Longest Ride is just a squeaky clean love story. It’s not ground-breaking and its loose ends are tied up rather conveniently, but I feel no need to mock it, nor did it anger me by being stupid.

HOWE: Creepy is a little understated when referring to The Lucky One; I would say more like disturbing. As for Safe Haven, well that was just a silly movie. I never watched The Notebook, so I can’t compare it with The Longest Ride, but I found it to be a so-so movie.

I enjoyed the idea of flashbacks via the reading of the letters and I found the performances of the young Ira and Ruth (Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin) were played really well. It was the other performances by Eastwood and Robertson that I didn’t find that encouraging. It made me chuckle that Eastwood’s first major role in a film is a cowboy. Coincidence? All that was missing was the poncho and cigar.

TAYLOR: Well, he is the spitting image of his father. Sometimes he sounds exactly like Clint, but he’s definitely more approachable, sometimes silly in his attempts to be cute or charming (somebody reboot Dirty Harry).

Eastwood looks like he grew up squinting in the sunlight (which he did), but although the actors are close in age, it kind of felt like a 33-year-old man was picking up an 18-year-old girl. My other problem was that the character of Luke grew up in North Carolina and while all the people around him had thick accents, he did not (nor did his mother, for that matter).

I took my sister and her daughter to the show and they liked it, although they both agreed it was a little long. I thought the film needed that length to tie up all the loose ends for a complete, Hollywood happy ending.

– Taylor gives The Longest Ride 2.5 truck nuts out of 5.

– Howe gives it 2.5 roses out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C.


Vernon Morning Star