So I’m convalescing in Toronto and I figure, what better way to rest my body than to take in a long, boring movie that should never have been made and I would never otherwise see, in a dark theatre on Yonge and Dundas?
87 (approximately) escalator rides up, and you’re in a space where you can forget that it’s actually a nice spring Friday afternoon somewhere, somewhere where Cokes don’t cost $8 a pop, and relax into the last movie on your list because you’ve literally seen everything else.
And if I may just sidebar for a moment here: In Ottawa, at least, our new cushy VIP theatre with the comfy recliners and the alcoholic beverages, doesn’t show any movies until evening. Does that feel a little judgy to anyone else? Just me? Yeah, I know it’s 1:30pm on a weekday, but I’m playing hooky and I’m a big girl, so if I’d rather a vodka something than a Coke anything, let me use my big girl pants and decide for myself, mmkay?
Back to the movie. Because I know you’re super interested.
It’s called The Longest Ride and it does in fact feel like they’re taking you on an unforgivably long ride. You might even end up chapped. It should be called Trying and Failing to Recapture the Magic of The Notebook. I’m no big fan of The Notebook, but I get why it has its rabid defenders. I think maybe we’ve mined Nicholas Sparks for all he’s worth. These aren’t diamonds, if they ever were. It’s just rocks. Worthless rocks.
A rodeo cowboy who can’t stop riding bulls even though his life depends on it meets a pretty college student who’s about to leave for a big city art experience that can’t be missed. But they go ahead and fall in love anyway. They meet an older gentleman (Alan Alda) who can’t read so good anymore, darn eyes, so cute little college student reads the letters from his sweetie for him. And as she reads we as the audience get to witness this second love story unfold as well. Two for one! But it’s like getting 2 for 1 at Pizza Pizza: yeah, it’s a deal, but it’s garbage that makes you feel queasy and you know you shouldn’t so just don’t.
Nobody in this movie is watchable, except Alda, whose character is woefully underdeveloped. If you’re thinking he might be a lush island in the middle of this ship wreck, think again. Britt Robertson, who plays the cute young thing, came as a bit of shock to me when Sean helpfully pointed out that she was appearing in two trailers back to back, this one, and also Tomorrowland, which creeped me out, because she’s playing a kid in the latter and not so much in the former. The creep factor never truly left me. She’s well into her twenties but looks about 12. So when cowboy gets all up in her bidness, it feels letchy and gross. Cowboy, as you may have heard, is played by Scott Eastwood, son of Clint. He has the same squint and very little ability. But who needs ability when you’ve purchased perfect abs? So what if he looks more like he’s been raised on the beaches of southern California than on a ranch in North Carolina? Details! Throw another country song on the jukebox, squinty! Actual lyrics: “I feel a sin comin on, please Jesus don’t hold me back.” Allrightie. And the director couldn’t resist upping the kitsch factor even more – the other pair of flashback young lovers is played by more Hollywood royalty progeny – Jack Huston (grandson of John) and Oona Chaplin (granddaughter of Charlie).
The drivel is flavourless and nobody here has the chops to rise above. And the two love stories don’t even have anything to do with each other. It’s just two stories that aren’t individually interesting enough, and because of divided screen time, you get maybe 3/4 of one, and half of the other, neither adding up to much. It’s two-dimensional and a little bit preachy and it’s NOT EVEN GODDAMN SEXY. So I’m still trying to figure out how the director of the Biggie biopic Notorious is doing Nicholas Sparks now, and why nobody told him not to, and how I can politely get off this very long ride.