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George Tillman Jr.
Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin
Writing Credits:
Craig Bolotin

After an automobile crash, the lives of a young couple intertwine with a much older man, as he reflects back on a past love.

Box Office:
$34 million.
Opening Weekend
$13,019,686 on 3,366 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Audio 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 128 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 7/14/2015
• Audio Commentary with Director George Tillman Jr. and Actor Oona Chaplin
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• “A Writer’s Journey: A Day in the Life of Nicholas Sparks” Featurette
• “Beyond the Ride” Featurette
• “Bringing It to Life” Featurette
• “Meet the Real Bull Riders” Featurette
• “Luke’s Bull Riding School” Featurette
• Gallery
• Trailer and Previews


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Longest Ride [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 28, 2015)

Have movie audiences finally tired of Nicholas Sparks? Granted, none of the flicks based on his novels set box offices on fire. Even 2004’s The Notebook - almost certainly the most popular Sparks film – wasn’t a huge hit on movie screens.

Still, these Sparks adaptations tended to due moderately well – until the last few years, that is. 2013’s Safe Haven mustered a reasonable $71 million, but 2014’s The Best Of Me petered out after a poor $26 million. 2015’s The Longest Ride rebounded a little, but its $37 million gross won’t turn any heads.

In Ride, we meet rodeo bull rider Luke Collins (Scott Eastwood). After a gig goes wrong, Luke suffers a serious injury. He stays away from the circuit for years, and when he eventually returns, Luke meets Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson), a bookish art student.

An unlikely pair, Luke and Sophia hit it off and go on a date. During this first outing, they rescue elderly Ira Levinson (Alan Alda) from a car wreck. As he recuperates, Ira tells Sophia of his younger self’s (Jack Huston) love affair with Ruth Pfeffer (Oona Chaplin). As Sophia learns of Ira’s past, she embarks on her own relationship with Luke and a mix of complications.

If you’ve seen prior films based on Sparks’ books, you’ll know what to expect from the Luke/Sophia romance – and pretty much everything else found in Ride. I realize that many movie genres can be broken down to their common parts, but Sparks flicks seem to suffer from this “same old same old” tendency more than most.

No, I won’t say that if you’ve seen one Sparks movie, you’ve seen them all – but you kind of have. Names and circumstances change, but we seem to always get the uptight – often rich, always smart – girl who falls for the rough-hewn – but always sensitive and always intelligent – boy. Various complications – usually her disapproving parents - transpire to try to keep them apart.

Plenty of the Sparks tales also go for the intergenerational theme that transpires in Ride. Hey, audiences ate up that template in The Notebook, so why not continue to milk the cow?

Perhaps it’s unfair for me to continue to review Sparks movies, as a) I’m the wrong gender for the target audience, and b) I never like them, so why persist?

Because hope springs eternal and all like that there, I guess. I don’t want to dislike these Sparks movies – I never hope I’ll dislike anything I watch, honestly. I always hold out a smidgen of hope that the next Sparks flick will become the first one I enjoy.

Alas, Ride fails to break that streak. I will say that it takes a subtler path than most of its predecessors, mainly because it omits the usual disapproving parties I mentioned earlier. The main obstacle Luke and Sophia face stems from the fact she will only stay in North Carolina for a brief period before she leaves; that ticking clock sets up some potential tension. This isn’t the world’s most clever plot twist, but it’s a refreshing change after all the scolding parents Sparks’ women usually confront.

If Sparks managed to create interesting characters, Ride might actually have become a decent romance. Alas, Luke and Sophia define “dishwater dull” and the flashbacks to younger Ira and Ruth never seem terribly compelling. They check off the standard romantic boxes but can’t muster any life or personality.

This void at the movie’s head makes Ride a slow, fairly boring 128 minutes. I appreciate the relatively subdued nature of its story, but it remains a lackluster romance without the charisma and life to sustain the viewer’s attention.

Casting footnote: whether intentionally or not, Ride boasts actors with superior Hollywood lineage. We find John Huston’s grandson, Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter and Clint Eastwood’s son. That factoid might be more interesting than anything in the movie itself.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

The Longest Ride appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this was a positive image.

On a smidgen of softness ever cropped up here, mainly in some low-light shots. Otherwise, the movie showed nice clarity and delineation. Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also stayed away from this clean image.

In terms of palette, Ride went with Hollywood Standard orange and teal. Overall, the hues were fine for their visual choices. Blacks showed good depth, while low-light shots boasted nice clarity. This was a solid “B+“ presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack, it gave us competent sonics most of the time as well as a little pep on occasion. A drama like this didn’t need to boast a rock-em, sock-em mix, so the audio seemed acceptable. Usually, the soundfield didn’t have a lot to do; it concentrated on good stereo music and general ambience.

Every once in a while, though, the mix came to life. This was especially true during rodeo scenes as well as through short war sequences. These didn’t dazzle, but they gave the mix reasonable breadth.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared fairly full; the score could’ve been a bit more vibrant, but it came across with reasonable definition. Effects remained clear and accurate, with some pretty solid low-end response during louder moments. This became a satisfying track.

In terms of extras, we open with an audio commentary from director George Tillman Jr. and actor Oona Chaplin. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, how Tillman came onto the project, cast and performances, sets and locations, story/character elements, music, editing, visual design and related topics.

Overall, this becomes a good chat. Despite some inevitable happy talk, Tillman and Chaplin interact well and they keep the piece going at a good pace. We learn a fair amount in this enjoyable conversation.

14 Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes, 13 seconds. Some of these offer interesting character moments – such as a meeting between Ira and Luke that takes place earlier than Ira’s crash – but most seem pretty forgettable. They flesh out the roles in a minor way but since the movie already runs awfully long, I’m glad they were cut – well, except for the shot of Britt Robertson’s bare butt.

We can view the deleted/extended scenes with or without commentary from Tillman and Chaplin. They tell us about the sequences and why the material didn’t make the final cut. The commentary offers rudimentary details.

For comments from the author, we go to A Writer’s Journey: A Day in the Life of Nicholas Sparks. In this four-minute, 44-second piece, Sparks discusses his daily process as a writer. Though he conveys some actual insights, “Journey” mostly plays for laughs.

Four movie-making featurettes follow. We get Beyond the Ride (4:14), Bringing It to Life (4:33), Meet the Real Bull Riders (6:08) and Luke’s Bull Riding School (4:59). Across these, we hear from Sparks, Chaplin, Tillman, Professional Bull Riders Tour announcer Brandon Bates, bull riders Jerome Davis, Brant Atwood, Ryan Dirteater, Kody Lostoh, Matt Bohon, Luke Snyder, Tiago Riani, Markus Mariluch, Sean Willingham, Josh Faircloth, and JW Hart, Davis Rodeo Ranch’s Tiffany Davis, stunt coordinator Troy Brown, bull handler Reese Arnold, bull fighters Tyler Furr and Eric Kinner, and actors Alan Alda, Jack Huston, Britt Robertson, and Scott Eastwood.

The pieces discuss story/character areas, the North Carolina setting and Sparks’ inspirations, bull riding, and Eastwood’s training. A few decent facts emerge along the way, but the featurettes tend to be fluffy and without much merit.

A Gallery offers still materials. It features 25 photos that mix shots from the set and publicity elements. This becomes a mediocre collection.

The disc opens with ads for Paper Towns, The Best of Me and Far From the Madding Crowd. Sneak Peek also delivers promos for Safe Haven and If I Stay. We also find the trailer for Ride.

Compared to other films based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels, The Longest Ride shows relative restraint and subtlety. Unfortunately, it comes with two dull romantic narratives and never demonstrates enough personality to become interesting. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and audio as well as an erratic set of supplements. Ride might be the best flick based on a Sparks book, but it’s still forgettable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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