Along for the Ride review: Netflix’s teen romance for those who don’t mind cheese in a summertime coming-of-age movie

Janice Mook
  • Based on Sarah Dessen’s bestselling young adult novel of the same name, the film follows Auden West (Emma Pasarow) as she breaks out of her shell and falls in love
  • While the storyline might seem a bit predictable, it reflects realistic challenges of entering an unfamiliar environment and getting out of one’s comfort zone
Janice Mook |

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Belmont Cameli (left) and Emma Pasarow star in Netflix’s Along for the Ride. Photo: Captured from Twitter / @NetflixFilm

Netflix’s adaptation of the bestselling young adult novel, Along for the Ride, is a cheesy yet enjoyable film that explores the complications of family, the excitement of moving somewhere new and, of course, the ups and downs of teenage love.

Based on Sarah Dessen’s 2019 romance novel of the same name, the movie is written and directed by To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before screenwriter Sofia Alvarez.

The teen flick follows Auden West (Emma Pasarow), an introvert who puts academics above everything, as she spends the summer before college in a small beach town with her father (Dermot Mulroney) and stepmother (Kate Bosworth). Growing up with her professor mother (Andie MacDowell), Auden has always felt out of place among other kids, so she wants this summer to be different.

But that’s easier said than done.

At the start, Auden is withdrawn and struggles to befriend her colleagues in her stepmother’s shop. Although Auden is longing for family bonding time, it turns out her dad is too busy working and can’t spare time for her – or for her stepmother and infant stepsister.

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When thoughts about how her dad abandoned her keep Auden up at night, she heads to the beach where she meets another insomniac, the mysterious Eli Stock (Belmont Cameli), as he rides his bike skilfully along the pier.

The friendship blossoms as Eli takes her on a quest to help her loosen up and experience what normal teenagers do – shopping trolley racing, food fights and night swimming. When Auden learns that Eli has isolated himself ever since losing a dear friend after an accident, she also pushes him to open up.

The characters influence each other to become better versions of themselves, and the chemistry between them makes it obvious they will fall in love.

Not only that, but Auden soon starts building her friendships with the other girls who work at her shop, joining them for parties and opening up to them.

Auden West befriends her colleagues Maggie, played by Laura Kariuki (left), and Leah, played by Genevieve Hannelius. Photo: Captured from Twitter / @NetflixFilm

The film reflects the realistic challenges of starting in an unfamiliar environment, getting out of one’s comfort zone and addressing flawed family members.

Feel-good indie songs on the soundtrack create an idyllic summertime full of romance and youth.

The plot follows the familiar trajectory of most teen romances, and it may seem a bit predictable for those who prefer complex storylines.

But the Netflix film is enjoyable for those who just want to swoon over the excitement of young love, and bask in the endearing friendships of a beach-town summer.

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