RIDE – Review by Susan Granger

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Writer/director Jake Allyn makes his directorial debut with Ride, a serious crime drama that pivots around a small-town Texas family of bull riders.

Stephenville, Texas, is known as America’s “Cowboy Capital,” because of its central location for rodeo participants. That’s where rugged John Hawkins (C. Thomas Howell, looking much older than his 57 years) is desperately trying to raise money for his 11 year-old daughter’s cancer treatments.

For three generations, the Hawkins family has excelled in the dangerous sport of bull riding. To compete, each participant mounts a bull that’s in a confined pen known as the chute. When the gate opens, the bull is let out into the arena, where it kicks, spins and attempts to dislodge the rider from its back.

Wearing chaps, boots and gloves, the rider grasps a thick rope, attempting to remain on the bucking bull for eight seconds. Scoring depends on time and on how much control & harmony with the bull that the rider demonstrates. While cinematographer Keith J. Leman captures this, it’s not explained in the narrative.

Instead, the convoluted saga begins as John picks up his wayward elder son Peter (Jake Allyn) after a four-year prison sentence. Peter’s eager to score drugs from thuggish Tyler (Patrick Murney), promising to pay with his upcoming bull-riding winnings.

Meanwhile, stoic John and his estranged wife Monica (Annabeth Gish), who serves as local Sheriff, are desperate to get ailing Virginia (Zia Carlock) admitted to a specialized oncology center – no matter what it takes.

But Monica’s Deputy Ross Dickens (Scott Reeves) becomes suspicious when Virginia’s medical bill is mysteriously paid, and the Hawkins’ younger son, teenage Noah (co-scripter Josh Plasse), is determined to help his family.

“Bull riding is the only sport that you always lose,” Jake Allyn concludes. “The bull always bucks you off eventually. It’s just a matter of how long you stay on and how many times you get back up. The same is true in life, and that’s what this movie reflects.”

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Ride is a confusing, yet suspenseful 6 – available on Amazon, Google Play, Apple TV, YouTube and Vudu.

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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 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.