Along for the Ride
Teens kiss, swear, drink in gentle book-based romance.
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Along for the Ride
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Along for the Ride is based on the novel by Sarah Dessen about two misfit teens who make a connection the summer before college. They drink with friends at parties, kiss, and spend one night together, though it's never made explicit what happens between them. Teenagers are portrayed as kind, thoughtful, and full of youthful energy. The two struggling to fit in for very different reasons help each other mature through their problems. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "damn," "sucks," "hell," "loser," "stupid," and "oh my God."
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What's the Story?
Honor student Auden (Emma Pasarow) has decided to spend her summer before college at the beach with her absentee dad (Dermot Mulroney), much younger stepmom (Kate Bosworth), and their new baby in ALONG FOR THE RIDE. Auden is mature and intelligent beyond her years, thanks to being raised by single mom and feminist professor Victoria (Andie MacDowell). But that maturity has always set her apart from her peers, and she's missed out on some of childhood's carefree adventures. In the beach town, she befriends a threesome of girls her age -- Maggie (Laura Kariuki), Leah (Genevieve Hannelius), and Esther (Sami Finnerty) -- and she meets loner Eli (Belmot Cameli), a BMX biker still getting over a recent trauma. Her new group helps her let loose and discover the joys of fitting in. She'll also have to face her strained relationship with her dad head-on.
Is It Any Good?
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 as Auden begins 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 six-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.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about films adapted from books, like Along for the Ride. What does each format allow for that the other does not? What's your favorite film adaptation of a book or story?
How does Eli help Auden by creating The Quest? How does she help him get over his grief?
How do the teenagers in this film compare with those of other movies you've watched?
- On DVD or streaming: May 6, 2022
- Cast: Emma Pasarow, Belmont Cameli, Andie MacDowell
- Director: Sofia Alvarez
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Friendship, High School
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 17, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Book-based teen romcom has some language, racy talk.
Appealing coming-of-age dramedy has language, sex, drugs.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things
Familiar but likable teen time loop tale; cursing, drinking.
Fun coming-of-age drama that's great for teens.
For kids who love teen tales
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