(Lainey: Scott Eastwood is in Toronto right now working on Suicide Squad. He’s been bragging about it on Instagram.
Does that mean you’ll forget that he was in The Longest Ride? Here’s Sarah’s review.)
In the traditional setup of Nicholas Sparks movies, The Longest Ride features a modern-day young couple whose contemporary experiences echo those of another couple In The Past. The young couple is Sophia (Britt Robertson, the upcoming Tomorrowland) and Luke (Scott Eastwood, Clint Eastwood’s balls), and the past couple is Ira (Jack Huston, Boardwalk Empire) and Ruth (Oona Chaplin, Game of Thrones). With descendants of screen legends Clint Eastwood, John Huston, and Charlie Chaplin all featured prominently, this might as well have been titled Nepotism: The Movie. On a scale of sh*t-to-horrible, The Longest Ride is actually one of the less-bad Nicholas Sparks movies—there are no ghost friends and no one had to die so that someone’s dumb wiener kid could live. I’ll say this for The Longest Ride: It did not make me want to burn anything down.
Sophia and Luke meet at a rodeo where Luke is competing as a bull rider. Luke is a Real Man because he brings flowers to Sophia on their first date and he gets offended when she offers to pay. Sophia has only known douchey frat bros who text for hook-ups instead of escorting her on proper dates, so she instantly falls in love with Real Man Luke. Their relationship is challenged, however, because Sophia is about to graduate college and leave North Carolina for New York City, where she has an internship with an art gallery. This is a crucial step on the path to achieving her dream of one day running her own gallery, but from the way they talk about Sophia’s future, you would think this is a world-ending event that is completely insurmountable. I can think of half a dozen ways Luke and Sophia could deal with their TEMPORARY separation so that Sophia can pursue her dream, but Luke acts like going to New York is the same thing as being sucked into a black hole.
Also, because this a Nicholas Sparks movie, Luke is Tragic And Poor, and he’s riding bulls against his doctor’s wishes because of an old head injury. But he needs to save his family’s ranch, and bull riding is All He Knows, so he keeps competing despite serious risk to his very life. Sophia can’t stand this very reasonable fear, and she is unsure if she can keep having PG-13 sex with him if he persists on his reckless path. Into all this conflict and turmoil comes Old Ira (Alan Alda, cashing that check), whom Luke heroically rescues from a fiery auto accident while Sophia rescues the box of love letters he carries around, like you do.
Through his letters, Ira recounts his love story with his wife, Ruth, with whom he faced Actual Problems. Ira is a veteran of World War II and Ruth is the sole survivor after the Holocaust wipes out her family. She is desperate for a family of her own but a war injury leaves Ira incapable of giving her children. Later, an attempted adoption fails for mysterious reasons (anti-Semitism?), and Ira and Ruth must deal with the crushing realization that they’ll never be more than a family of two. This is genuinely sad, and it makes Luke and Sophia’s issues look exactly as petty as they are.
But this is Nicholas Sparks! There are Lessons To Be Learned! Luke learns that Sophia is more important than bull riding—which comes conveniently AFTER he’s already mastered the very bull that injured him in the first place—and Sophia learns literally nothing since she stays in North Carolina with Luke because she is not some awful monster who has desires and dreams independent of a man. The moral of the story is that Real Men conquer their demons regardless of the cost and women shouldn’t have goals or ambitions. Ira is like, “That’s not what I was saying AT ALL,” and promptly dies because it’s the only way to escape drippy Sophia and her made up problems.
And now for the Obligatory Sparksian Twist! Because they didn’t have children, Ira and Ruth instead spent their money amassing an art collection featuring works by the like of Warhol and Jackson Pollock. Ira’s estate auctions off this collection, but the first lot up for bidding is a crappy portrait of Ruth, which Luke buys because sentimentality. But wait! Ira’s will stipulates that whoever sees the Real Value of the portrait and buys it in turn “wins” the whole collection (thus enabling Luke to help Sophia realize her dream after all). So Luke has just become the owner of all this fabulous art and an effete art-type is like, “How much for the Warhol?!” and Luke replies, “F*ck you, that’s how much,” and I laughed until my head exploded and I am, in fact, writing this review from the afterlife because this movie killed me with its dumbness.