Along For The Ride takes you on an emotional journey as you watch people heal, grow, experience many first-time moments, and get the strength to start a new chapter in their lives.
|Screenplay By||Sofia Alvarez|
|Date Released (Netflix )||5/6/2022|
|Genre(s)||Drama, Romance, Young Adult, Family|
|Duration||1 Hour 47 Minutes|
This content contains pertinent spoilers.
Auden has just graduated from high school, and with her mother, Victoria, a noted college professor, having custody of her for the majority of her life, she has long been a mini-Victoria. But, a decision is made to leave the community her mother relishes in to be with her dad, Robert, and his new wife, Heidi, for the summer in a small beach town named Colby. It is there Auden plans to reinvent herself, or at the very least focus on doing more than gaining academic knowledge. Which with the help of a former BMX athlete named Eli, Auden grows to know herself more and gets to experience all the things she didn’t make a priority throughout her life.
Things To Note
- Reason(s) for Film Rating: Cursing (Rarely), Violence (None), Sexual Content (None), Miscellaneous (Teen drinking)
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- How did Heidi and Robert meet?
- Who was doing all the accounting work before Auden came to Colby for the summer?
He enjoys the performance of working, arguably more than he does the actual work.
Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.
18-year-old Auden has lived most of her life living up to her mother, Victoria’s, expectations, which had little consideration for Auden having much, if any, of a personal life. Thus, a lot of experiences the average child and teen would have, Auden has not. Mind you, not because of Victoria physically stopping her, but Auden’s upbringing makes her lessen the value of what others would consider normal. At least until now.
A notable professor whose name attracts students far and wide, Victoria has struggled a bit after her divorce from Robert. Notably, she became heavily reliant on Auden being her person, alongside her colleagues, and in pursuit of that, she made Auden into a little adult.
Selfish and always working, both as a father and a partner, Robert liked to be oblivious to his failings, and even after 18 years and now having a second daughter, Robert still has so much to learn.
Heidi is the owner of Clementine’s, a beach-focused boutique in Colby, and is a new mother and business school graduate. She is also Robert’s second wife, who is having a hard time with his hands-off approach to parenting, which literally is him not participating and closing the door.
An up-and-coming BMX pro whose career was cut short 18 months ago when he lost his best friend in an accident, Eli has now become a former shell of himself. Now the 20-year-old Eli just works during the day and wanders the boardwalk at night.
Maggie is Heidi’s unconfirmed favorite employee who, like Auden, is going to Defriese in the fall.
Leah is one of Maggie’s friends, perhaps Esther’s best friend, who finds herself often doing what the others want to do and supporting their interest, even though she doesn’t get reciprocity.
Esther is a queer girl who sings the same song with her crush at every party and is one of the first people in Colby to befriend Auden after Auden commits a social faux pas.
Auden and Eli
In some ways, Auden and Eli are the perfect opposites attract pairing. She is an academic who is an introvert, and Eli, at one time, was an extrovert who went to every party and wanted to travel the world doing BMX. But one of the things people don’t talk about when it comes to opposites attracting is that at the core of the relationship are similarities.
For Auden and Eli, it was the need to heal. For 18 months, Eli was in mourning after the death of his BMX partner, Abe. Auden? She was mourning a life unlived. She got into a good school and had all this knowledge of books and vocabulary words, but what real-life experiences did she have? She didn’t have a relationship with Robert since he put his work before her, so she didn’t learn from him how to ride a bike. Her mother didn’t value Auden having friends her own age or put any real value on teen experiences, so Auden didn’t think she needed them and even adopted her mom’s condescending attitude.
Both needed to unravel who they were and their current way of thinking to move forward, and throughout the film, we see a friendship blossom. One that pushes both to break down the walls they built up. Auden is pushed to be adventurous, potentially make mistakes, and enjoy the grace given to the youth as Eli is compelled to leave the grave he dug next to Abe for himself and begin to live again.
It’s an emotional experience watching these two come out of their shells and encourage one another to take the necessary step forward.
Heidi is a new mom. The baby is always crying, and because Robert didn’t learn anything from his first marriage and would rather paint Victoria as a crazy person, he is repeating his mistakes. But Auden shakes things up. You get such a tender moment between her talking to her dad and Victoria, despite how she talked down about Heidi, comforting her and even speaking to Robert. One that helps you understand that it isn’t just the kids unlearning or undoing the knots in their lives. The adults are too, and like the kids, they need help because they can’t do it on their own.
Quality Supporting Roles
One of the things Along For The Ride does well is give you just enough about the supporting characters to latch onto their names and like them, but not enough to want more out of them. Maggie is cool, but you don’t wish to dive into her personal life or learn more about this older boy who likes her. Leah seems nice, as does Esther, but are you clamoring to know what their lives are like when not around Maggie or Auden? Nope. They have established personalities and interests to make it clear they have lives and thoughts of their own, but Along For The Ride makes sure you aren’t pushed to feel jilted by supporting characters not getting main character treatment.
Respectful Of Small Town Beach Life
Are there some valley girl type accents? Yes. However, what Along For The Ride wants you to realize is just because we’re focused on a small beach town, it doesn’t mean there are small-minded individuals. In a way, it’s like it wants to challenge your potential Victoria style of thinking about Colby, Maggie, Heidi, and everyone and thing Auden meets.
For example, just because Maggie has relationship drama and likes to party and dance, it doesn’t make her any less smart than Auden. In fact, they got into the same school! Also, while Heidi owns a simple beach shop, that doesn’t discount it is run so well that she can focus on being with her baby and not have to tend to the shop. Her training with Maggie, Leah, and Esther, and her business degree, allows her to have some kind of work/life balance. Which, for a brick and mortar store owner, isn’t always easy.
The Inevitable Say Or Do Something Dumb To Potentially Ruin The Relationship Bit Wasn’t Over The Top
Almost every romance film has that moment when the bubble pops. It is the moment when the honeymoon period is over, and the relationship is tested. For Auden and Eli, it is when both are confronted with the idea that they can’t be each other’s escape or a distraction anymore. If they are going to be together, they need to have real conversations, tackle real personal issues, and go beyond cute dates and the superficial.
We appreciated that for there were so many ways and reasons for this to get over the top dramatic. Which, admittedly, as Auden was dealing with her dad’s lack of effort in all of his relationships, it could have gotten eye-roll-inducing. Especially if Auden decided to lean on her mother’s negative takes on relationships and socializing when she isn’t the most interesting person in the room.
But rather than send us skyrocketing downhill, both take some time apart after being given a wake-up call and come together after taking note of what was said and applying what parts of it were true, and not just hurt feelings.
Along For The Ride is a wonderful late teen/early twenty romance that isn’t fluffy and butterflies but isn’t too heavy either. In many ways, it figures the right way to balance everything from the trauma and healing its characters need to go through, how deep the supporting characters will be, to how to paint small town beach living. Because of that, we’re recommending it to those who need a quality romance film to watch and maybe need to shed a tear or two.
On The Radar
- Recommended: Some of the best-seen movies we have ever watched and mentioned to friends, family, and strangers as films that need to be seen.
- Positive (Worth Seeing): Whether you’ll have to go to the movies, download, or stream, movies of this category are worth your time and money with few, if any, qualms from us.
- Mixed (Divisive): Due to this movie having a few quirks, of which may work for some and for others be a problem, we believe your enjoyment of this movie will depend on your taste.
- Negative (Acquired Taste): While one or two elements kept us going until the end, unfortunately, we’re of the opinion this film never reached the potential it was marketed to have.
Special Categories/ Tags
- Indie: By our definition, independent films are films you have to seek to find due to limited availability or lack of a marketing push.
- Film Festival: Featured in this tag are films and shorts which were discovered thanks to various film festivals, so some of the productions may not have wide availability but still may deserve to be on your watch.
- Shorts: Be it ten or fifteen minutes, or a half-hour, these quick teases or films get right to the point, often show the potential of filmmakers and the actors who have joined them in their journey.
- Ending Spoilers: Trying to remember how a film ended, or want a different take on the ending, then check out the "ending spoilers" category.