Nicholas Sparks writes tear-jerking movies that for some reason come out as books first–and my goodness does he create parts for actors. Actors of all ages too, who get to explore human emotions and very rarely blow anything up, unless it’s their own ambitions or dreams or some wrongheaded vision of how the world works. You know who specializes in that kind of thing, too? Alan Alda. What James Garner and Gena Rowlands did in Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook is just what Alda’s up to in The Longest Ride. And Alda delivers the goods with Hawkeye gravitas.
Alda, married nearly 60 years, knows the territory of long love he traverses in The Longest Ride. The actor told the LA Times that his “real life emotions” were “as close as I ever felt to the emotions of a character” as he played Ira Levinson, whose modest eminence anchors a story that’s ostensibly about younger love between Luke (Scott Eastwood) and Sophia (Britt Robertson). The Longest Ride also stars the wonderful Oona Chaplin, who brings–we’d say–even more literary-showbiz pedigree than her co-stars who happen to be sons of Clint Eastwood and Robert Alda. It’s what you expect from Sparks, Alda, et al–and it works.