Before the semester starts, Angelo wants to visit his father in California; and after arriving, is immediately drawn to surfing, so much so, he makes plans to extend his visit. Jackie is none too pleased, and eventually follows him to Los Angeles in hopes of bringing him back for school. What she encounters there will be a total surprise to her—and to her son.
I was immediately struck by Hunt’s decision to draw a distinct contrast between New York and Los Angeles. The woman in New York is driven, seems to eschew sports, and thinks nothing about correcting others’ grammar. Her son—who calls her ‘Jackie’—makes comments about her not wanting to get her hair wet and never taking off her shoes. She tries to hold onto that life, but California seduces her just as it does Angelo. I see that Hunt was born in California and lives there now, but has spent enough time in New York to have an opinion about it. Some of the funnier parts of Ride are when she seems to be spoofing New Yorkers and their lifestyle.
Hunt has won and been nominated for numerous awards—including an Oscar—during her career as an actress. Ride is her second movie to write, direct, and star in, although she has also directed episodes on television. One of her strengths does seem to be that she can mix comedy with insightful portrayals of mostly believable characters; although here, I think she is a bit heavy-handed in emotional scenes, where subtlety and suggestion might be a better way to go. She accomplishes that in her contrast between the two cities and in a significant revelation toward the end of the film, but emotional interchanges between characters punches a bit too hard.
Hunt deserves all the awards and nominations she has received through the years, and is just as effective when she directs herself. Thwaites and Wilson (who plays love interest and surfing coach Ian) step up to the plate in matches with her. Mother-son interactions are filled with tension—which the viewer will experience as well—but the latter part of the film provides some humor and lightness, especially when Jackie and Ian begin their friendship.
A comedy with emotional punches.
Grade: C+ By Donna R. Copeland