A lot or a little?
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the intense true story behind The Ride involves a young boy who came from an abusive family, got involved with a white supremacist group, and was locked up in juvenile detention for years. But the boy, John, is eventually chosen for adoption by an interracial couple who not only save him from a life of violence, but also teach him to trust and to love, including across races. There are some flashbacks depicting a violently abusive father and several rough fight scenes where characters are beaten to the point of hospitalization. The white supremist group brands a Nazi symbol into John's neck with a knife. Racial epithets are used, including "spook," "coon," "monkey," and the "N" word. Other language includes "s--t," "ass," "bitch," "hell," and "idiot." John and his brother are both shown not to deeply believe in the racist credos of the supremacist group, and John begins putting his natural talents into bike riding, becoming a BMX competitor and eventually an extreme sports legend. The characters demonstrate determination, integrity, compassion, and resilience.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
John McCord (Alexander Davis then Shane Graham) is sent to juvenile detention as a 9-year-old for a crime he didn't commit in THE RIDE. John hails from an abusive home, where his dad (played by the real-life subject of this true story, John Buultjens) beats his drug-addicted mom (Christina Moore), leaving John and his brother Rory (Richard Davis then Blake Sheldon) to be drawn in by a local white supremacist group. After seven conflictive years in detention, John is chosen for potential adoption by a couple, but to his dismay his new parents are a white woman (Sasha Alexander) and a Black man (Ludacris). John and his foster dad, Eldridge, are slow to find common ground, but eventually they bond over bike riding. Following the trend of kids at his new high school, and supported by his soon-to-be-girlfriend Sherri (Jessica Serfaty), John starts training for freestyle biking competitions. When Rory and the group come back into his life, John has to face his past without losing hope about the new future he's building.
Is it any good?
The Ride takes a bit to warm up and ends with an action sequence involving a BMX biking competition, but it's what comes in the middle of this affecting biopic that will stay with viewers. The relationship between father and adopted son unfolds in a series of moving scenes between Ludacris and Graham. One, in which Eldridge teaches John to ride a bike, memorably conveys both the teen's stolen childhood and the developing trust and tenderness between the two men. Meanwhile, Graham transmits John's slow acceptance of the possibility of a future outside of bars through both his facial expressions and the way his shoulders appear to physically relax over the course of the movie.
The script, based on a true story that originally took place in Scotland, has bumped John's age up by several years and moved him to America. It also handles the topic of racism relatively lightly. Eldridge cuts racial difference down to a question of "melanin." John and Eldridge exchange racist barbs sharply at first and later jokingly, including one Eldridge hails as "clever, tasteless, and offensive!" The racist youth are basically background characters, including John's brother, who represents the past and what might have become of John. The suggestion seems to be that inherited racism, especially in kids, can be unlearned. John is portrayed as more victim than perpetrator, ultimately making both the character and his story more suitable for a younger audience.
- On DVD or streaming: November 13, 2020
- Cast: Shane Graham, Ludacris, Sasha Alexander
- Director: Alex Ranarivelo
- Studio: Amazon Prime
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Compassion, Integrity, Perseverance
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic content involving violence, abuse, racial epithets and brief drug material
- Last updated: December 19, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love true stories
Find more movies that help kids build character.
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch