Along for the Ride is a cliche jaunt through summer romance


(Promotional material courtesy of Netflix)

ALONG FOR THE RIDE (2022), Belmont Cameli as Eli & Emma Pasarow as Auden. Cr. Emily V. Aragones / Netflix

Netflix original Along for the Ride, released May 6, did not stray far from Netflix’s other recent disasters like Tall Girl 2 and The Kissing Booth 3. An adaptation from Sarah Dessen’s 2009 young adult novel, Along for the Ride provided a summer romance cliche complete with terrible acting.

Meet Auden (Emma Pasarow), an honor society girl who’s never done anything that couldn’t be added to a college transcript. It’s the summer after high school graduation, and Auden is desperate to have a summer of change at her absent father’s beach house before she continues her studious lifestyle at an elite university. Meet Eli (Belmont Cameli), a mysterious twenty-year-old who was once the life of the party and now hides in his workshop, tooling around with bikes. When the two outsiders meet at the boardwalk at 2:00 a.m. while sulking in their loneliness, they immediately click. 

The film follows Auden’s summer full of girl drama, family drama, and boy drama as she navigates peer interaction and attempts to bond with her work-absorbed father. The plot is the utmost cliche as every move is easily predicted. The acting is painfully cringeworthy, every word clearly memorized off a script with little believable emotion. The characters and plot do not make up for the sub-par acting as none of the characters are likable. Auden is annoying and hard to watch as she acts above her peers, coming off as vain. The story is completely focused on Auden and her family and gives little depth into the lives of others which leads to a straightforward and bland storyline. Eli does have one background tragedy plot line centered around him, but, like every other character, nothing else of his life or family is shared. 

 Auden and Eli’s chemistry is slightly awkward, just like the rest of the acting, but not enough to deter a viewer from cheering them on. The tale is classic: they meet, become friends, fall in love, fight, and make up. While it is nothing new or exciting, their relationship promotes positive growth as the two push each other to enter the unknown and face their fears. 

The film is appropriate for most ages, as anything inappropriate would easily fly over a younger person’s head. The furthest the film goes is light make-outs that anyone who has watched Disney Channel has seen. While it is hinted that characters sleep together, nothing inappropriate is shown. For some viewers, this innocence will be refreshing but to others it will grow into a boring guessing game of what really happened. The character’s clothing is childish and not an accurate presentation of current Gen Z fashions; not the place to go for fashion advice. 

The parties portrayed in the movie are quite tame; the craziest part of these college-aged parties are food fights and bonfire songs. While it is implied that alcohol is consumed underage and fake IDs are presumably present, the words are rarely (if ever) mentioned and the visuals amount to red solo cups. The characters never act drunk. This pushes a bubble gum narrative, similar to that of Disney Channel, which is comfortable for younger viewers but may grow annoyingly unrealistic to older viewers.

One thing the film nailed is the setting, an adorable upper-middle-class east coast beach town complete with pink awnings and frilly beachy boutiques. The beach parties and boardwalk onion ring runs depict a picture-perfect summer getaway that viewers will surely yearn for. 

Netflix needs to step the teenage films up from terrible acting and cliche storylines. Along for the Ride is appropriate for younger ages but is a boring joke for older teenagers and adults. The bland plotline and mediocre acting are slightly bumped by the aesthetic beach setting, awarding Along for the Ride a two out of five feathers.