In 2007 Oscar nominated actress Helen Hunt, best known for her role in the television series Mad About You, went behind the camera to direct her first film called “Then She Found Me”. It met with limited success. Now eight years later she once again takes on directorial duties for the mother-son film, Ride.
Doing exactly the opposite of what his mother wishes for him, Angelo (Brenton Thwaites – Maleficent, The Giver), who wants to be a writer, drops out of college and travels across the country to California. Angelo is going to stay with his father (Robert Knepper – Hitman, Transporter 3), who is super chill about life allowing him to do what makes him happy as opposed to his mother who likes to control everything. After a few minutes in California Angelo falls in love with it and decides to stay. He has in mind to find himself and to do so he will surf.
Not willing to sit back and watch her son waste his time, Angelo’s mom and literary editor Jackie (Helen Hunt – As Good As It Gets, Twister) follows him across country traveling from New York City to Los Angeles. She is aiming to put a stop to her son flaking out, but as often is between parents and kids, there is a failure to communicate. Despite the fact that she as a New Yorker through and through and hates the laid back L.A. vibe, Jackie decides to take surf lessons in attempt to bridge the divide between her and her son.
As life often goes instead of the son finding himself it is his mother through her friendship with limo driver (David Zayas – from television’s Dexter) and falling for her younger surf instructor Ian (Luke Wilson – Old School, Legally Blonde) who embarks on a time of self- discovery. This ends up resulting in a renewed relationship for mother and son.
Not only directing Ride, Helen Hunt also wrote, produced and acts in the film. This is a tricky proposition in that your attention is divided and it is often hard to gain the required distance from the material in order to direct. Throughout her career Helen Hunt has time and time again demonstrated her acting talent and has garnered critical acclaim throughout her lengthy career. This film, while I could see what she was striving for, will not go down in the books as one of her better moments. Helen Hunt is a very talented actress, but she needs to develop more as a director. Even the writing is too predictable at times while others it is just too wordy and witty to make it seem natural. Helen Hunt is trying to hard and it shows. Bottom line is that it is riddled with clichés and in the end, rather dull.
On the plus side, many middle aged women will really relate to what Jackie is going through in this film. Adjusting to kids making up their own minds and plotting the course of their lives is a tough adjustment for parents to make. You sometimes have to sit back and allow them to make their own mistakes. This task is seemingly impossible for Jackie and she puts her relationship with her son in jeopardy due to her meddling. Parents have to let go and stop trying to control their kids’ lives.
Because of this behavior the character of Jackie is not a very sympathetic one. She is overbearing, a control freak and snooty at times. Not very likable most of the time. It is hard to like her character even when it is explained that she has suffered a tragedy that has caused the behavior. Then suddenly through the magic of film Jackie all of a sudden wakes up and begins to let attempting to control every moment of her son,s life go. As a result their relationship improves and everything is magically repaired by the end of the 93 minute run time. Let the yawns and rolling of the eyes begin.