The Ride

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
The Ride Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Language, violence in biopic with anti-racist messages.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Everyone deserves a second chance. Kids are often the victims of their family circumstances, and childhood abuse and trauma can have long-lasting effects. Though people can't choose where they come from, they can choose where they go. Hard work and perseverance can pay off. The color of a person's skin doesn't determine their value or quality as a person, but racism still persists in modern-day America.

Positive Role Models

Despite John's racist and violent past, Eldridge chooses John to foster then adopt because he sees kindness and intelligence in the troubled teen. He himself was wrongfully accused of a crime and lost a lot in the process. Eldridge demonstrates integrity, patience, and a capacity for forgiveness in accepting John into his home, treating him like a son and helping him reunite with his brother, who is still involved with a white supremacist group. John has a Nazi scar behind his ear and spouts some racist comments, but he learns that love and compassion run deeper than superficial differences like skin color, and he ultimately forms part of a happy biracial family. He has natural talents, both intellectual and physical, that he develops with practice, determination, and resilience.


As a child, John is used by older kids to steal drugs, beating a Black police officer in the process and earning him entry into their white supremacist group. They brand a Nazi symbol into his neck with a knife. Also as a young child, John witnesses his abusive father beat his addicted mother, who eventually dies of an overdose. He stabs his father with a knife and is sent to juvenile detention, where he beats up his cellmate on day one and engages in fights with other detainees, especially Black, for years. Adopted as a teen, John nearly gets into fights with classmates and his foster dad. Both the dad and his brother are hospitalized after brutal fights with the Nazi group. John escapes the group in a fast chase scene on his bike, and in other scenes takes some nasty spills doing bike tricks, dislocating his shoulder in one.


Eldridge had a benign tumor as a young man that resulted in an inability to have kids, which John refers to as "shooting blanks." John and classmate Sherri kiss in one scene.


"S--t," "ass," "bitch," "hell," "idiot." Aryan Nation youth use derogatory terms to refer to a Black man, including "spook," "coon," "monkey" and the "N" word.


John is impressed by his foster parents' wealth when he arrives at their suburban home, especially compared with his poor upbringing. His foster mother has to show him how to place the silverware correctly when setting a table. John tears up watching a scene from the movie ET. BMX and biker brands and sponsors are seen repeatedly, most notably Haro, Rockstar, Etnies, and Lucas Oil.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Eldridge drinks a glass of red wine at a celebratory meal. Teens steal prescription drugs. Young men talk about drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. John's mom is said to have died of a heart attack brought on by a drug overdose.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byTom B. March 20, 2021

Little known but greatly loved

Wow, what a true story. We loved it. Hope you do too.
Adult Written byHeatherLWood December 21, 2020

BEST movie I've seen in years!!!

Amazing humanity and heartfelt morals, values, and passion as this movie relays the importance of how family doesn't always have to have the same bloodline... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old December 7, 2020

The Ride

Some scenes were difficult to watch, but it's definitely a meaningful movie.

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.

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