Jackie, being a typical concrete jungle New Yorker, has that extra dose of confidence that makes her believe there's nothing on the West Coast that she can't handle and do better than Californians do. That changes when she needs to learn how to surf. This sets us up for that always fascinating moment when the know-it-all parent is smacked down to a child-like level of cluelessness and is forced to shut up, listen and learn. She gets her share of aches and pains but the surf lessons from no-nonsense Ian, played smoothly by Luke Wilson, are quite the learning experience. He says, "I'm 37." She replies, "I'm...not."
Here' a trailer for Ride. By the way, Helen Hunt is 51 years old. Brava, Ms. Hunt.
I mentioned the brisk way mother and son have of bickering in this movie. It's fast and sophisticated dialogue -- like the mother and daughter bickering in James L. Brooks' Terms of Endearment. Brooks directed Hunt to an Oscar victory in his As Good As It Gets. I bet she learned from and was inspired by his writing and directing style. Just like in those two movies, we're laughing at a mother's way of mothering while trying to get through her daily life. Then a serious matter comes up. Like the ocean water, there's more than what you see on the surface. Getting to that matter is a little choppy, writing-wise. I think we needed a scene with Angelo's father. But Hunt's final scene on the surfboard brings it all together. She delivers a funny, moving, honest performance. Her skills as a director have grown considerably since her first outing. Is it a great film, a classic like Terms of Endearment? No. Is it an entertaining film? Most definitely.
Jackie's scenes with Ian were a sweet revolt against Hollywood ageism. Brenton Thwaites plays Angelo, the son. Let's face it -- he's a nice, trim box of eye-candy.
When Jackie asked Ian what he wanted of his mother when he was in his 20s, he answered "For her to want nothing of me." Hunt wrote a beautiful line there that resonated with me. Do not think this Ride story is so far-fetched. I grew up in Los Angeles and longed to get away so I could find my own life and hear my own voice in my head more than I heard my mother's. I wanted an on-camera TV career in New York City. I started my professional TV career in Milwaukee after graduating from a university there. Can you guess who left L.A. and moved to Milwaukee where she repeatedly reminded me that I was meant to be a writer instead of an on-camera TV talent? You're correct. My mother. Sometimes there's no wackier or funnier fiction than real life.
This new movie has three other stars but they weren't seen onscreen. Excellent work came from editor William Yeh, cinematographer Jas Shelton and the late surf cameraman Sonny Miller. Miller died of a heart attack last year after completing Ride.