Ride

Posted on May 7, 2015 at 5:05 pm

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some drug use
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking, drugs
Violence/ Scariness: Peril
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: May 8, 2015
Date Released to DVD: August 17, 2015
Amazon.com ASIN: B00Y250GE4
Copyright Sandbar Pictures 2015
Copyright Sandbar Pictures 2015

A surf bum named Ian (Luke Wilson) is explaining the physics of the interaction between surfboard and wave: it’s an inanimate object in an ever-changing environment. One doesn’t move. One never stops moving in powerful and highly unpredictable ways. And that is also the story of the woman who is not quite listening to Ian’s explanation.

Oscar-winner Helen Hunt writes, directs, and stars in “Ride,” the story of Jackie, an overprotective Manhattan mother whose son, Angelo (Brenton Thwaites) flees for California to surf. Her plan was for him to start college just 85 steps away from the apartment that they share, constantly calling back and forth to each other rapid-fire as they work on their laptops. He feels claustrophobic and over-managed, so when he visits his father in California he decides to stay. Jackie finds out when she visits his dorm to make his room more homey.

She follows him out to California and when he does not want to talk to her, the only way she can think of to stay close to him is to learn to surf. And so we will see her lose or relinquish everything she thought was essential to who she was: her black Manhattan editor wardrobe, her constantly buzzing phone, her willingness to be perpetually available to handle crises at the office, her reluctance to meet her ex-husband’s new family, the intensity of her connection to her son, and the equal intensity of her refusal to rely on anyone but herself. She has been an inanimate object in an ever-changing environment. Can she adapt?

Hunt’s script is clever and warm-hearted. As with her previous film, Then She Found Me, loosely adapted from novel by Elinor Lipman, the film explores the challenge of being a loving and supportive mother to an adult or almost-adult child while being a person at the same time — and letting the child be a person, too.

After a short introduction, where we see her sitting on the other side of her then-preschool son’s bedroom door all night, tiptoeing out of the way so he won’t see her when he gets up to go to the bathroom, we see them just before he is supposed to start college. He repeatedly asks her for help with his story, but she is an experienced editor who has worked with nervous authors for many years and she knows better than to do the work for him. “It just has to be surprising and inevitable,” she tells him. And clearly, that is advice that Hunt the screenwriter has taken to heart as well.

She has a great sense for writing say-able dialog that sounds smart and believably witty while letting us know who the characters are through what they say and how they say it.

Parents should know that this film includes strong language, sexual references and situations, drinking, and drug use.

Family discussion: Did the end of this story feel both inevitable and surprising? What will happen next?

If you like this, try: “Then She Found Me”

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Drama DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Family Issues Romance

Interview: Brenton Thwaites of “Ride”

Posted on May 7, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Copyright Sandbar Pictures 2015
Copyright Sandbar Pictures 2015
Australian actor Brenton Thwaites (“Maleficent,” “The Giver”) stars in “Ride,” a new film written, directed, and starring Oscar-winner Helen Hunt. She plays Jackie, an overprotective mother whose son Angelo (Thwaites) is about to start college and move into a dorm a short walk from their apartment. When he decides to drop out of college and escape to California, where he can spend his days surfing, she follows him out and ends up taking surfing lessons herself, from a handsome surfer played by Luke Wilson. Thwaites, who is currently filming the next “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, told me that while he did not consider himself an expert surfer, he is better than the character he played, so he had to “down my game because the character actually is not an experienced surfer. He is a New Yorker gone to LA to kind of start the process of surfing so knowing how to surf wasn’t really key in the role but it was an advantage, I guess.”

The early scenes in the film convey a very close connection between mother and son. I asked him how he and Hunt developed a rhythm that seemed to show years of spending a lot of time together. “A lot of it was in the writing, I have to be honest with you. She wrote these very unique characters that are on the same wavelength and only on that wavelength. It’s hard for other people to really connect with and understand what they’re talking about a lot of the time. And the way we kind of got to do that was just talking to each other, was just rehearsing, talking the lines through. I had to audition a couple of times to understand her flow, her style. But once we are in there, there is no going back. It’s quite fun to relish it.

He told me that it was not easy to be tough on Hunt, who was not only his co-star, but his director. “That was one of my challenges; to find the right level of frustration and anger towards her without seeming like I, Brenton, really didn’t like her. I didn’t want to annoy her or piss her off but at the same time that was my job. I had to do it.”

He did not think his first audition went well. “I went to her house and auditioned with her and we worked a couple of scenes and I went away feeling like I just destroyed my tiny chance of getting the role. And so I was called back for second audition with some notes to take on. And in the second one we kind of worked it and I was a little more relaxed. I understood the character a little more and the cadence and the text. I guess he found our flow. I guess she learned to see Angelo through me I guess. I know she had written someone in her mind very physically opposite to me. I am the furthest thing from inner-city New York. Probably not right for the role but I guess I convinced her somehow.” He really appreciated her “understanding of actors because she is an actor. A lot of actors don’t like this but I personally love the fact that she would be in the scene with me directing me on either side of “action” and “cut.” It just created a sense of rhythm throughout the whole movie that I loved. It was quick, it was effective, she knew exactly how to step on my triggers and she know how to pull me back, how to change my thought. And I guess slowly I learned to push her buttons and I guess I had to figure out how to play with her but at the same time preserve her to direct the film. I was trying to affect her in a way that only actors can affect each other. There was nothing to hide. So if she says were not going to get this shot or we don’t have time for this close-up then you know that. It is not hidden behind the camera behind a screen somewhere. She was very open with everything that was going on set and guess in that I learned to trust her and believe in her.

The biggest challenge for him was the first scene filmed, which comes late in the story, “the resolve of the movie. That was quite difficult just because it was my first scene and I was nervous and I didn’t really know what the set was like and how she was is a director/actor but it worked out really well. I think my most challenging scene was the most rewarding so I think that was the case for this one.”

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Actors Interview

The Real Story: “Chasing Mavericks”

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm

In “Chasing Mavericks,” Gerard Butler plays real-life surfing legend Richard “Frosty” Hesson, who was approached by kid named Jay Moriarity (Jonny Weston) who wanted some guidance in becoming a better surfer.  They both wanted to surf the gigantic waves off the California coast that were called “mavericks.”  This movie is the story of their friendship and their passion for surfing.

Sadly, Moriairty was killed freediving at only 23 years old.  Here is a touching tribute.

For more information, try Surfing Mavericks: The Unofficial Biography of Jay Moriarity, The Ultimate Guide to Surfing, co-written by Moriarity, and Hesson’s Making Mavericks: The Memoir of a Surfing Legend

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The Real Story
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Gidget (3-Pack)

Posted on July 5, 2011 at 8:00 am

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: Some drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Mild peril
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: 1959
Date Released to DVD: July 5, 2011
Amazon.com ASIN: B000286S2E

A new DVD 3-pack of all three “Gidget” movies comes out today, and they’re worth another look, especially the 1959 original with Sandra Dee and James Darren.  Dee plays Francie, a sheltered and somewhat naive girl who thinks that it is still to make a fuss over boys.  But she is very interested in this new all-male activity on the beach called surfing and the cusp-of-the-60’s pre-counter culture guys who are devoted to it.  Their leader is played by Cliff Robertson as a pilot who is taking a break from real life to live on the beach (literally).  They take her on as something of a mascot, calling her Gidget (girl plus midget), and everybody has some growing up to do.  It’s probably not as sugary as you recall and it holds up pretty well.  The story, by the way, was inspired by the daughter of the author, Frederick Kohner.  You can see the real-life Gidget, still surfing, in the wonderful documentary, Step Into Liquid.

In the first sequel, “Gidget Goes Hawaiian,” Deborah Walley takes over for Dee and Darren returns.  A romantic misunderstanding arises when a mean girl spreads a rumor that Gidget and her boyfriend have gone what in those days was called “all the way.”  Everything is straightened out and Gidget’s good girl reputation is protected.  Watch for a very cute dance number with Broadway hoofer Michael Callan, the original Riff in the stage production of “West Side Story.”

The third episode is the weakest, with Cindy Carol as Gidget and a silly jealousy story, but the wonderful Jessie Royce Landis is a treat as something of a drowsy chaperone.  I still think of this movie whenever I hear the names Paolo and Francesca.

And don’t forget the Gidget television series, starring Sally Field, which included a guest-star appearance from her fellow future Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss.

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