Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Ride Movie Poster Image
Mom gets her groove back in charming, not-too-edgy drama.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Overall message is about learning to how to lead a life well lived -- "working to live" versus "living to work." Also a strong message about giving your kids the space they need to become independent adults (and taking the time you need for yourself, too).

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jackie starts out as a smothering mom, but she learns how to let go of the reins, love her son unconditionally, and be there for him in a healthy way.


A woman is stung by a jellyfish while surfing and requires someone to urinate on her foot.


Adults kiss and have sex a couple of times; bare arms, backs, and a male chest are visible in the bedroom scene. A woman jokes that a man should use her for her body until she's ready to dump him. A mother allows her son to bring girlfriends back to their apartment, presumably to have sex.


A couple uses of "f--k," plus several of "s--t," "a--hole," "bulls--t," "bitch," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation).


Featured products include Apple (iPhone, MacBook Pro), Volvo, Quiksilver.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jackie smokes marijuana that her son drops on the floor.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ride is an independent drama about a helicopter mom who's having a tough time letting her 18-year-old son make his own decisions. Starring and written/directed by Helen Hunt, the film explores not only mother-son dynamics but also how moms need to take care of themselves and have lives separate from their children. The relationship drama includes some strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch," etc.), a scene in which the mom smokes pot, and a couple of love scenes with kissing and bare backs/shoulders. Parents and teens who watch together will have the opportunity to discuss everything from college choices to the idea of working to live, rather than living to work.

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What's the story?

Jackie (Helen Hunt) and her NYU-bound son, Angelo (Brenton Thwaites), are incredibly close; they treat each other more like equals than as mother and son. An aspiring writer, Angelo calls Jackie by her first name and lets her edit his manuscript for a short story, even though she's a tough critic, being a fiction editor at The New Yorker. After graduation, Angelo heads to Santa Monica to visit his dad (who has a new family with a much younger second wife), and soon Jackie discovers that Angelo has dropped out of NYU. Upset, she hops on the first flight to LA, hires a chauffeur (David Zayas), and starts to stalk her son, who's spending his time surfing. After an ugly confrontation, Jackie decides to prove to Angelo (and herself) that she can surf, too, and hires laid-back Ian (Luke Wilson) as her instructor.

Is it any good?

Hunt's family dramedy is surprisingly sweet, if occasionally a little sour. As a helicopter mom dealing with empty nest syndrome, Hunt's stubborn, smart Jackie is difficult to relate to or even like, but that's what makes her evolution so charming. Even though audiences will absolutely see Jackie's hook up with Ian as inevitable from the moment she first sees him, their romance is light and humorous, without any angst.

Instead, the angst is reserved for Jackie's relationship with Angelo, who's a bit too whiny at times to be lovable -- but what can you expect from a kid who tells his mom about his sex life and calls her by her first name? Despite the unorthodox closeness between mother and son, Ride isn't just about parents and kids; it's about the value of work/life balance and knowing the difference between the two. And there's also a great lesson about being involved in your child's life without smothering them with the weight of parental expectations. Bottom line? There's more to this quiet little movie than meets the eye.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Ride's story is a coming-of-age of sorts for both the mother and her son. Why makes movies about parent-teen relationships compelling?

  • The movie includes texts between a mother and son. What role does social media play in movies and TV shows now? How do you think that might change in the future?

  • Does Jackie seem like a real parent? What does the movie have to say about parent-child relationships? About parents as individuals?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love offbeat movies

Themes & Topics

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