- Jennifer Green
Review: "Along for the Ride"
Buoyed by a steady pace and restrained lead performances, this film crafts a gentler, calmer world than many teen films. That doesn't mean that Along for the Ride is entirely lighthearted: The main characters are both dealing with letting go of rigidity or stress to live more happily and freely.
In subtle but effective ways, writer-director Alvarez shows how carefree and cheerful life could be for happy, healthy teens, a helpful reminder in stressful times. The most memorable is an overhead shot of a pile of content kids lying on each other at the beach watching fireworks above.
Other scenes show Auden beginning to loosen up and enjoy real friendship with the energetic trio of local girls. Pasarow's facial expressions and body language convey even slight evolutions of character.
The film hints at realistic facts of teen life, like sex, drinking, and differing sexual orientations, but it opts not to explore these more fully. Characters drink out of tumblers and carry what looks like a 6-pack in a paper bag into a party; they spend the night together without specifically revealing what happened; they talk about same-sex crushes without showing any actual same-sex couples. But this works for the story and doesn't feel like obfuscation.
The film has a woman's perspective -- on relationships, motherhood, and divorce -- but the male characters are likable and show evolution as well.
Veterans MacDowell, Mulroney, and Bosworth deliver understated performances that complement the discovery of newcomers, led by Pasarow, Cameli, and Kariuki.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.
Images courtesy of Netflix.