Oh, Nicholas Spark adaptations and your beautiful people dating other beautiful people, doing beautiful things half naked, and always trying to come up with new ways to say the same lines and tell the same stories with only a few variances here and there. It was only a matter of time before we got to the endlessly cliched cowboy-meets-artsy-girl story of The Longest Ride, a movie that prods itself with a never-ending slew of stereotypical cowboy phrases—calling back to lines like “save a horse, ride a cowboy”—girls freaking out in the stands in the rodeo for their chance of riding one, and a constant supply of country songs.
Cowboys are hardly the only cliche in this film, though I am not sure if I should even be considering cliches as a negative element of a Nicholas Sparks movie since they are basically walking cliches that hardly try to shed the similarities they bear to his other adaptations. Following two parallel romances, one being art student Sophia (Britt Robertson) on the verge of graduating college and her (literally) steamy romance with a bull rider— played by Scott Eastwood—Luke Collins (a name that I had to confirm as not already been taken by a country singer.)
The other is the poignant and a nonetheless predictable romance between two lovers (Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin) at the rise of WWII and their life through the years struggling with the fact that they cannot have children. Their lives become interconnected when, in the present day, Sophia and Luke meet the older version of Huston’s character played by Alan Alda, after saving him from a car wreck. He imposes on them—more specifically Sophia—the life lessons he has learned after a lifetime of love—yeah, it’s that cheesy.
The Longest Ride is literally that—extending nearly to 140 minutes, it bucks its way to an unpredictable but still, in a way, foreseeable ending. The actors do surprisingly well, though the movie can’t help but play towards Eastwood’s resemblance to his father and his (also literally) impeccable body (because let’s be real, we know who the target audience is) as we transition from slo-mo rodeo shots to scenes of him and Robertson stripping naked and riding a different kind of rodeo. Aside from the main players, the background cast hardly gets developed as they recite their lines like they know they’re not a major part of this love fest.
Considering this is only the third Nicholas Sparks movie I have seen (the other two are The Notebook and A Walk to Remember), I can only imagine the amount of hackneyed phrases, moments, and endings that have become so commonplace in his novels and film adaptations. The Longest Ride is just that, a long, bumpy ride that will probably frighten you more of bulls rather than make you fall in love.