At least twice during “The Ride,” documaker Meredith Danluck’s behind-the-scenes look at competitors, entertainers and other participants on the Professional Bull Riders circuit, announcers warn cheering crowds: “This is not a rodeo!” No bull: The man-vs.-beast matchups depicted here appear to be, quite literally, death-defying encounters — for the riders, if not the bucking bulls — and even auds who neither know nor care anything about the sport will be enthralled. Outside the arenas, however, pic often dawdles as Danluck spends too much time with some subjects, not enough with others. A shorter “Ride” could work on cable and homevid.
Among the PBR riders followed by Danluck, young JB Mauney, a multimillion-dollar prizewinner described as the sport’s “rock star,” and Willy Ropp, an eager up-and-comer from an Amish family, make the most ingratiating impressions. Welcome comic relief is provided by Flint Rasmussen, a professional clown who takes very seriously his work amusing crowds between bull rides. But a segment about a singer who performs the national anthem at PBR events seems easily disposable. Pic overall sports a slick tech package, with ace lensing by Jake Burghart.