“Fuck tha Police” Ice Cube playing a street-tough cop = irony. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart star in Ride Along.
Cast of Characters:
Det. James Payton – Ice Cube
Ben Barber – Kevin Hart
Santiago – John Leguizamo
Lt. Brooks – Bruce McGill
Angela Payton – Tika Sumpter
Miggs – Bryan Callen
Omar – Laurence Fishburne
Director – Tim Story
Screenplay – Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi
Producer – Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez, Will Packer & Larry Brezner
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language
High-strung security guard Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) is in a steady relationship with his beautiful girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter) and just recently got accepted into the Atlanta Police Academy. He wants to propose to his girl, but one obvious obstacle stands in his way: Angela’s over-protective brother, Atlanta detective James Payton (Ice Cube).
Feeling that Ben’s not good enough for his sister, James offers to take him on a ride along to see if he’s not only man enough to be a cop, but also worthy enough to marry his sister.
This is the 1,224,214th buddy cop comedy to hit the big screen following successful films of this genre such as 48 Hrs. and Lethal Weapon out of the 80’s and more recently, last year’s The Heat. You don’t go into these films expecting Serpico or The Departed, you expect it to be exactly what it is and hope it can make you laugh.
Too bad it doesn’t.
Director Tim Story has had prior comedic success, having directed the very funny BarperShop, which starred Ice Cube (forget the unnecessary sequel, which Story had nothing to do with). BarberShop was clever and had heart. Ride Along is just a formulaic mess.
Story, along with four screenwriters, drag the viewer through every single cliche in the buddy cop comedy book. If you were wondering if at any point we’d get the token angry Lt. who bellows at Ice Cube to “Follow procedure!!!!”, yes, he pops up, and yes, Ice Cube’s not gonna give a damn about what he was just told. That’s not the problem; in fact, I walk into every single movie of this kind expecting it to break every single cliche in the book. The Heat broke ’em last year, but the dialogue was at least funny and Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy were terrific playing off each other. You’d think that with four writers – yes, four – that at least one of them could squeeze out a laugh from maybe just one of the setups they put together, but, aside from a few funny ranting moments from Hart – such as Ben lecturing a student on why he shouldn’t be ditching his English class – it’s miss after miss after miss.
Kevin Hart is fully capable of being laugh out loud funny and even Ice Cube has proven he can be entertaining in the aforementioned BarberShop and also David O. Russell’s Three Kings. Together, though, they have no shared laughs or chemistry, and that might have something to do with the fact that they’re both playing caricatures. Neither is the straight man (e.g., Nick Nolte, Danny Glover, and Sandra Bullock). Of course, you know Hart isn’t it, but even Ice Cube overplays the whole glaring, snarling, tough guy act we’ve seen him phone in for years.
Plus, on a side note, I got to thinking, we never see Tika Sumpter (wasted as the obligatory supportive, “you don’t understand him, brother” girlfriend) leave the house, so we don’t know if she works or not. For such a nice looking and rather spacious apartment, how the hell can Ben afford it on a high school security guard’s salary?
If I ever decide to work for a school, I now know what district to get hired into.
Kevin Hart has the energy and the talent to be a strong comedic presence and with a smartly written script, he could very well pull it off. Not here though. The jokes fall flat and some overstay their welcome, even long after I concluded they weren’t funny to begin with. With a supporting cast that features the likes of John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill and Laurence Fishburne, this is a group of talented individuals thrown into a predictable and lazy attempt at a comedy that, save a few laughs, isn’t funny.
I give Ride Along a D (★).
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