Along for the Ride

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Belmont Cameli and Emma Pasarow in Along for the Ride.
Belmont Cameli and Emma Pasarow in Along for the Ride.
Photo: Emily V. Aragones/Netflix

MOVIE:

Along for the Ride

WHERE TO WATCH:

Netflix

OUR RATING:

2.5/5 Stars

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

The summer before college Auden meets the mysterious Eli, a fellow insomniac. While the seaside town of Colby sleeps, the two embark on a nightly quest to help Auden experience the fun, carefree teen life she never knew she wanted.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

We've all had that teenage fantasy of being able to escape to a place where nobody knows you for a summer vacation. A place that offers a clean slate, an opportunity to be a different part of yourself, or perhaps, your most authentic self. Along for the Ride feeds into that fantasy.

According to Bustle, the flick is the first of a three-movie deal with novelist Sarah Dessen – whose books That Summer and Someone Like You were adapted for the 2003 film How to Deal, starring Mandy Moore.

It is written and directed by the woman who wrote the screen adaption of Jenny Han's To All the Boys – Sofia Alvarez. So, to say that I was expecting another teen rom-com drama that defied the genre with its undeniable 'it' factor would be an understatement. Sadly, Along for the Ride was just missing that spark.

High school graduate Auden (Emma Pasarow) turns a vacation with her father and his new wife into a personal reinvention of sorts. She meets the mysterious Eli (Belmont Cameli), a fellow insomniac, and the two embark on a nightly quest to help Auden experience the fun, carefree teen life she missed out on but never knew she wanted while making a few unexpected friends along the way.

The film serves as a career jumpstart for Emma Pasarow. The qualities she adds to Auden are enough to make the teen romance trope of playing an awkward yet attractive girl who doesn't quite fit in, or at least according to her, believable. But it is Auden's growth throughout the film and Pasarow's skill in knowing when to be restrained and when to let loose that make this film a successful debut.

Cameli (of Saved by the Bell's reboot) plays Pasarow's love interest, Eli. This character was a bit of a hit and miss for me. When we meet Eli, he seems as though he is the mysterious outcast of the town, only for us to find out that, sure enough, he was popular until a fatal accident involving his best bud caused him to withdraw from his community. That storyline is interesting enough, and Cameli delivers a realistic depiction of how teenagers might react and feel about a traumatic event in their lives. As for his storyline with Auden – there was just something about it that didn't quite work. Again perhaps it's because I was hoping for another magnetic duo similar to what we saw between Noah Centineo and Lana Condor as Peter and Lara Jean.

I will say, however, that the onscreen couple is allowed to grow on screen in an earnest, believable fashion as appose to the unattainable fairy tale-esque route To All the Boys takes.

What I also enjoyed more in Along for the Ride is that it's not just Eli who makes the difference in Auden's life. In actual fact, the real 'romance' or relationship development was between Auden and the three 'popular girls' she meets in her step-mom's boutique. Some of the movie's best scenes come from Auden's friendship with Leah, Maggie and Esther, played by Genevieve Hannelius, Laura Kariuki, and Samia Finnerty.

Pasarow and Cameli also get support from a trio of wily vets, Dermot Mulroney, Andie MacDowell and Kate Bosworth but don't let that for one second deter you from the fact that is film is purely for the teens. The adult roles felt more like caricatures until we reach the third act when Auden's divorced parents (played by Mulroney and MacDowell) act like real complex people instead of the shallow parts they've been playing all along, partly due to the poor script.

Along for the Ride tells a realistic story of young adulthood and first love. It is a relatable, easy-viewing movie that will make you wish you could spend a little more time with the young people in it and maybe even become a part of their clan. There may be nothing new in this cliched genre's message, but that does not mean we don't need to hear it.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:

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