THE LONGEST RIDE – Review by Susan Granger

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What’s most astonishing about this predictably sudsy screen adaptation of Nicolas Sparks’ 2013 best-seller is how much Scott Eastwood looks like a younger version of his rugged father Clint – and how the camera fawns over his chiseled jawline and muscular physique. Set in North Carolina, Scott plays Luke Collins, a former champion bull rider, who is trying to make a comeback after suffering a serious head injury. At a rodeo, he meets Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson), a studious Wake Forest University senior who is excited about her upcoming internship in New York City’s glamorous art world. Read on…

He’s an old-fashioned guy – one who calls, rather than texts, and brings her a bouquet of flowers on their first date. Despite their differences, they’re soon saddling up and riding off into the sunset.

One dark, rainy evening, Luke spies a car that’s spun off the road. Luke rescues 91 year-old Ira Levinson (Alan Alda), who was driving to Black Mountain College, near Asheville, while Sophie grabs Ira’s treasured box of letters from the passenger seat. Ira’s vivid memories – a.k.a. flashbacks – of his beloved, contemporary art-enthusiast wife Ruth inspire the young couple.

Stressing the theme that love demands compromise and sacrifice, screenwriter Craig Bolotin (“Black Rain”) and director George Tillman Jr. (“Faster”) intertwine these formulaic narratives – with Jack Huston (grandson of John) playing Young Ira and Oona Chaplin (granddaughter of Charlie, daughter of Geraldine) as vivacious Ruth, a Jewish immigrant from Austria during the 1940s.

While the rodeo sequences are exciting – with the bucking bull Rango receiving his own screen credit – the artificial juxtaposition of these two disparate romances is preposterous and the conclusion simply flabbergasting.

FYI: This is Nicholas Sparks’ 10th novel to be made into a feature film. Others include “Message in a Bottle,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” “A Walk to Remember,” “Dear John,” and “The Notebook.”

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Longest Ride” is a syrupy 5, oozing unabashed slush and sentimentality.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.