Insipid Ride Along Running On Empty
I get why Ride Along exists. It serves a certain market, features a familiar premise and showcases a rising star with the potential to breakout in a big way along the same lines as an Eddie Murphy or a Chris Tucker. It is the kind of movie the studio producing it greenlights in the blink of an eye, the production budget more than likely low making it an almost guaranteed moneymaker no matter what the final box office tally turns out to be.
None of that speaks to the movie’s actual quality, of course, and to say this Ice Cube / Kevin Hart buddy action-comedy is anything other than instantly forgettable would be a gargantuan misrepresentation. Ride Along isn’t very good. In fact, it comes perilously close to terrible, and if not for the fact a handful of moments did get me to chuckle I’d be very much in favor of calling it so.
High School security guard Ben Barber (Hart) wants to be a police officer. More than that, he wants to marry his beloved girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). Thing is, she won’t agree until he both gets his priorities in order and obtains the permission from her seasoned, highly decorated older brother Detective James Payton (Cube). Step one comes in the form of his acceptance into the Atlanta Police Academy. Step two is a bit harder to come by, James not exactly enamored with Ben and is concerned he won’t make his sister happy.
So, in the middle of a massive investigation involving a secretive drug lord and potential arms merchant he’s been tracking for ages, the Detective thinks it would be a good idea to drag his potential brother-in-law on a ride along to show him what working the streets as a cop is really like. Throughout the course of the day hilarity and camaraderie is supposed to ensue, the two at first butting heads but by the end of it all learning the true meaning of friendship and brotherhood, solving James’ most important case in the process.
Thing is, Ride Along is rarely funny. More than that, Hart and Cube aren’t all that great a team, the former a hypochondriac pinwheel of commotion and chaos while the latter struts through the film with his macho indifference as if he’d rather be doing anything else than appearing in this. Their attempts to make the wildly cliché script, credited to four different writers, more than the sum of its parts doesn’t amount to anything substantive, all the while director Tim Story (Fantastic Four, Barbershop) keeps the pace so laconic he manages to make 100 minutes feel like 300.
None of which matters. For the audience this thing is targeted at, a buddy comedy in the vein of 48hrs. or Lethal Weapon, with an emphasis on comedy over bullets, is probably going to be worth taking a chance on whether or not it’s any good. The film serves an underserved niche, that goes without saying, and as such it’s going to be a success no matter what anyone anywhere has to say about it good, bad or indifferent.
That doesn’t mean I have to like it. Ride Along is, as stated, pretty bad, and other than a rather amusing sequence at a gun range and a few decent sequences of banter between Hart and Cube the whole thing ends up being rather insufferable to my way of thinking. Crude, filled with rude, sexually-charged bit of humor that honestly have no place inside a PG-13 rated enterprise, this wasn’t a movie I particularly enjoyed sitting through, and now that this review is finished with thankfully I’ll barely have to think about it ever again.
Review reprinted courtesy of the SGN in Seattle
Film Rating: 1½ (out of 4)