Get ready to feel the coastal breeze, smell the salt in the air, and lather on the sunscreen from your couch, because Along for the Ride kicks off summer in the best possible way.
Netflix’s 2009 film version of Sarah Dessen’s novel follows the smart but lonely Auden (Emma Pasarow) who decides to spend the summer of college with her estranged father in the small coastal town of Colby.
Auden, a night owl, slips out every night to read about her lonely, and soon meets a fellow insomniac, the intriguing Eli (Belmont Cameli) (Belmont Cameli). As the two get closer while the rest of the city sleeps, they go on a nighttime journey to help Auden experience all the fun elements of teenagehood she’s been missing out on. And doesn’t it just seem like the ingredients of an epic, sultry summer romance?
To all the boys I’ve loved screenwriter Sofia Allvarez makes her directorial debut with Along for the Ride. While she is comfortable with the YA romance genre, she was most excited to produce the perfect summer movie and celebrate female friendships in the first place. Below, Alvarez talks about working with Dessen to adapt the novel, why she made so many changes to the story, and more.
In Sarah Dessen’s childhood novel Along for the Ride (2009), Auden West is a teenager who can’t sleep because her mother and stepfather are always arguing. This prevents her from participating in common children’s activities, such as cycling. Auden, a high school senior, had been admitted to Defriese University.
She has no idea how she will spend her last summer together. Her brother Hollis sends her a package. In Europe, she accepts her father’s invitation to spend the summer with him and his new family. He now lives in Colby and Auden arrives, hoping to spend some time with her father. But Auden soon discovers that her father is working on a new novel.
Auden travels to the Tip, a popular youth who hangs out on the beach. She meets Jake and eventually she hooks up with him. The next morning, Auden feels terrible and sends Colby home. Auden helps her stepmother, Heidi, to sleep by watching Thisbe. Auden also helps Heidi with an errand for her company, Clementine’s.
The core of Together for the ride
Auden (Pasarow) is a downer. She recently graduated and instead of joining her peers in TPing the school clock tower, she is told that “as a cross-border act it is wrong”.
She didn’t miss much. Parties and proms aren’t her styles, but maybe she wants them to be? She is a social awk. Her book learning comes from her divorced parents. Mom Victoria (MacDowell) is a passive-aggressive gold-medal professor. He is an author with a newer wife, Heidi (Bosworth), and an almost new baby.
Instead of spending the summer at Robert and Heidi’s Atlantic Beach House – Beach House music, no joke, check the credits – and do the books for Heidi’s seaside shop, which definitely deserves the extra “pe”.
So Auden turns on the story (it’s always the voiceover in YA literature adaptations) and drives his Volvo to Colby Beach. Meanwhile, Mom is furious and Dad is too busy to even have lunch with his daughter.
Heidi is in that new motherhood phase where she is foggy and about to have a nervous breakdown from lack of sleep. Auden’s goal is to meet new people and make new acquaintances in this town with a boardwalk and chocolatiers. You would go for the cute location, the ocean, ice cream cones and the smell of guano and fish guts.
She goes to the local youth hangout, The Tip (great name), and faisashes with an asshole before realizing he’s insane. One down.
Especially since the shower boy is Maggie’s ex, and she saw them making out and Maggie still getting stabbed, she doesn’t fit with Leah’s, Esther and Maggie’s little shorts and dance parties employee three †Laura Kariuki)† No. 2 Heidi is a delight (really! But stressed and daddy writes Neither he nor mom leaves guilt in voicemails that end with “c’est la vie.” UGH. Will this work?
Auden is a night owl who likes to read by candlelight on the pier. And who should come but a youngster on a bike, Eli? (Camel). Who is Eli? Another late-nighter shows her a hidden laundry back door and teaches her Connect Four. Good news. The shop girls take Auden to beach bonfires and hot dog parties (as in frankfurters, clean up friend) where no alcohol is served! Introduce! And she and Eli do sweet things that make us scream KISS HER YOUR DIP at the screen. But since this is a film about the ups and downs of life, there must be some down, right?
What movies will it remind you of?
Along with the thundering waves and salty air of the Ride, it evokes memories of the Miley Cyrus/Nicolas Sparks beach movie The Last Song, but with less vocals, paralyzed turtle analogies and death.
Our Take of Together for the ride
Pleasant to watch, with Along for the Ride you wish you could spend more time with these characters. The youngsters grow up on film in a sincere, convincing way; the adults seem to be sticking to the same old tropes, making the movie a little wet.
Then, in act three, Dad, Mom, and Stepmother act like real people, not caricatures, while Pasarow grapples with a clunky, never-learned bike metaphor and Cameli delivers a wacky, emotional little monologue. Those poor young people who endure such suffering on TV. Such an avoidable disaster.
But this isn’t a hull torpedo. While Along for the Ride indulges in a few tired genre cliches, director Sofia Alvarez (who also wrote two To All the Boys) focuses on her star, cultivating a thoughtful, clever rendition of Pasarow.
The film blends realistic narrative elements with the dramatic hackneyedness of teeny boppers to allow a few generations to watch and support these individuals. Alvarez does her best to avoid the Happily Ever After Fallacy and indicates that the lives of these not irreversibly damaged people will continue just fine.