Along for the Ride (2022) review – quirky and sweet

May 5, 2022
M.N. Miller 0
Film Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service
3

Summary

Quirky and sweet, Along for the Ride is too adorable to ignore.

3

Summary

Quirky and sweet, Along for the Ride is too adorable to ignore.

This review of the Netflix film Along for the Ride (2022) does not contain spoilers. 

Netflix has become the personal movie hub for Sofia Alvarez to bring beloved young adult romance novels to life. Her adaptations of To All the Boys I Loved Before and To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You have been word of mouth smash hits for the streaming giant. So, Ms. Alvarez is naturally the perfect choice to bring Sarah Dessen’s beloved teen romance novel to life. 

Along for the Ride follows a young woman, Auden West (Emma Pasarow), a stellar student and daughter of academics. She has graduated high school and wants to spend a carefree summer in Colby before she leaves, over his mother’s (Andie McDowell) objections. However, she may want to spend time with her father (played by Dermot Mulroney). He has been an absentee dad for years, always locking himself away in his office to work on his studies. He has a new child and is remarried to Heidi (Kate Bosworth), and now living in the beach town of Colby, 

When she arrives, she puts her foot in her mouth a couple of times with Heidi’s teen employees (the fun trio played by Genevieve Hannelius, Laura Kariuki, and Samia Finnerty). Feeling like an outcast and out reading a book on the local docks at one-thirty in the morning (has she never watched a Dateline?), she meets a stoic bike enthusiast, Eli (Saved by the Bell’s Belmont Cameli). They eventually begin to talk when he accidentally causes her to knock over her coffee while reading Secrets of the Flesh.

Eli and his curly hair make it up to her. How? Well, by taking her to a local laundromat, of course. After changing a load of laundry, he shows some chivalry, opening a door for her. Except, he expects her to walk into a completely dark room, which she does, to find a secret pie shop. (Note to young women everywhere, please NEVER follow a man you just met to a laundry at two in the morning and enter a dark hidden room, or Keith Morrison may narrate your unfortunate demise someday because you have been found in a wall stuffed with dryer sheets). Both loners are shy, insomniacs, and begin to bring each other out of their shells.

What is refreshing about Alvarez’s adaptation of Dessen’s New York Times best-selling novel is how it captures the free and easy, even buoyant, youth of summer before college. It’s the starting gun of endless possibilities. But also, particularly with young women where the boys they may have loved before mostly take a back seat here.

You also have a slightly different twist to the nerdy girl trope here. West does an excellent job toeing the line between likable and unsociable. She is a bit standoffish and, frankly, rude without knowing it. Saying things that may offend, that she certainly doesn’t mean, but also assumes everyone may agree with her opinion. The story could have made a natural love triangle or being bullied by a mean girl.

Here, the story is kind of refreshing in its way. You have many kids aligning with a mean/rude, popular mean girl/boy most of the time. Here you have a group of kids of all races who are welcoming and empathize with Auden. Frankly, for all of Auden’s sweetness, she is a lot like her father. She has her nose in a book but has the attitude that she is different from everyone else. Yet, she finds that just because these boys and girls want to have fun doesn’t mean they don’t have aspirations and passions that align with her own.

This young adult film is quirky but not overtly. It may have a few too many music montages, but the soundtrack is surprisingly good and appropriately works. It has some romance, but it is sweet without being saccharine. For instance, it is pretty awkward when Eli drives our girl Auden home, the same way two young people act when they like someone and feel their way. The scene even ends without a kiss. Tell me the last time a film in this genre patiently allows two characters to connect as friends first in a mature way in young adult fare?

Yes, there are your standard tropes and cliches, but they are handled with a deft touch. Yes, Along for the Ride cannot help itself with a third act cliche, but it’s too adorable to ignore. Carmeli, a star in the making, and Pasarow have natural chemistry. This young adult film has its flaws but is a thoroughly enjoyable rom-com like a warm coast breeze and a fond summer memory.

What did you think of the Netflix film Along for the Ride (2022)? Comment below!

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