The film mixes comedy and pathos.
Watching Ride, I kept identifying flaws. Too many pat plot developments. Too many cutesy montages. Too many precious notions regarding the lives of fiction writers. Too much triumphal surfing. (Yes, triumphal surfing.) Yet by the end I was weeping. It’s that kind of movie. Ride was written and directed by Helen Hunt, who received her Best Actress Oscar for her work in As Good As It Gets. That’s a James L. Brooks movie, and Ride has elements of the Brooks style: the unhappy family, the barbed dialog, the mix of comedy and pathos.
Hunt plays Jackie, the career-obsessed fiction editor of The New Yorker. She has a prickly relationship with her son Angelo (Brenton Thwaites), an aspiring writer and matriculating NYU freshman. He ditches college for the surfing life in Southern California, and she ditches work to chase after him. On the West Coast she learns life lessons and strikes up a romance with a wise, gruff surfing instructor (Luke Wilson).
Quick, how many movies can you name that are thoughtful about mothers and sons? Setting aside Psycho (special case), there’s Ordinary People, which Ride resembles in certain details, and not many others. Ride is worth your time for that reason alone.