Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Longest Sleigh Ride

Netflix DVD envelopes have been festive for about the last month and it is straight up delightful.

I thought I should share, since most of the world is probably not seeing this grand artwork after ditching the genius of mail-delivery DVDs in exchange for Redbox or streaming services.

Clearly I am holding on to the past, but how else does anyone rent old or obscure movies! My town is down to two locally owned movie stores, so when I just have to rent gems like Zardoz or Sleepaway Camp, Netflix DVDs is the best option.

Plus, the people working for Netflix are consistently on point when it comes to summarizing the plots of movies.



Netflix is the absolute worst in this category. The white sleeve the DVD comes in always features a plot description and there is a 50/50 chance that the summary is complete rubbish! I've even written about this before.

Case in point, the one I received last night for The Longest Ride:

They gave it a good shot, but this is only part right.These words tell the story of a different movie - one that completely focuses on Alan Alda as he remembers stories from his past while being trapped in a burning car. Oh, and there also happens to be a young couple falling in love nearby.

Not that a movie starring Alan Alda would be terrible - he's the most used celebrity in crossword puzzles after all! A short name like "A-L-A-N" or "A-L-D-A" really fits well into a lot of places.

This movie does turn out to be more of an ensemble, with a lot of integrated story lines, so I can see it being somewhat difficult to wrap it all up in a couple sentences. However, it is comical that this movie description mentions nothing about bull riding, since that is the main focus in all the movie trailers, and was basically the only plot point I knew going into the movie.

The envelope should read, "Scott Eastwood Rides Bulls", since that seems like the reason most people watched this movie.

Mr. Eastwood might have inspired me to rent it, but this movie ended up utterly charming me.

Adapted from a Nicholas Sparks book, the movie follows a big shot bull rider (Eastwood) as he is falling in love with a local college gal (Brittany Robertson). One night they rescue a man (Alda!) who has gotten in a car accident. These three bond over this intense experience, and in the hospital, Alda's character begins telling stories about the early years of his marriage. It's a Sparks book, so of course the man's stories are told through old love letters.

[Side Note: I don't care how many times letters are used as a way to advance a story. Letters are the perfect way to bridge the past and the present, plus there is just something old timey and romantic in the way you can express your detailed feelings about a situation through writing. No other medium can match it.]

It quickly becomes clear that this newly paired off couple could learn a lot from the issues faced by the couple falling in love in the 1940s.

Eastwood and Robertson have good chemistry and their story is nice to watch, but the surprise to me was the utterly engrossing portions of the movie focused on the flashbacks of Alda's character as a young man. I'm a sucker for retro costumes and decades from the past, so sign me up for any movie with tons of lush flashbacks.

This blast from the past story is pretty simple (we don't have to worry about some guy named Lon breaking up these two like in The Notebook)- Alda's character as a young man had to go to war, him and his wife had issues with finding out what they wanted out of life, and they decided that it was important to focus on what they did have rather than desiring what they didn't. Through all of this, the two actors in the flashbacks (Oona Chaplin and Jack Huston) really make you feel like their love is palpable.

It's no surprise that the acting from these two was the highlight, since they both come from lines of Hollywood royalty - Oona Chaplin being the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, and Jack Huston being the grandson of the director John Huston and the nephew of Angelica Huston. Along with Scott Eastwood being the son of Clint, this movie features quite the trifecta of offspring.

Young actors from famous families mirrors the way this movie blends the past with the present, which is my favorite feature of most things written by Sparks. Time goes by, but the struggles of people falling in love rarely vary. It's a solid way of connecting stories together.

As this movie began to wrap up, everything might have been a little too neatly tied together and coincidental, but to be honest, for once, I was completely thrilled with how a somewhat cheesy and predictable ending unfolded in front of my eyes. Plus, guess what guys? The title of the movie isn't just a reference to bull riding - it has a double meaning!

I give in to movies like this more often than I like to admit. Don't even get me started with the severe ugly cry moment I had while watching Safe Haven. At least the Netflix plot description on the envelope didn't ruin that twist ending.

Until next time.

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