Genre: Action and Adventure, Comedy
Director: Tim Story
Cast: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Tika Sumpter, Bryan Callen, Laurence Fishburne
Release Date: January 17th, 2014
Ride Along has all of the elements of a film that could work. There’s the open-ended set-up (of a sibling/parent disliking the person their relative is dating) that’s worked in spite of its obvious limitations before. There’s the colorful setting of a police station (a comedic version of Training Day is what the director was hoping for). And then there’s the likeable star who brazenly gives his all for a laugh. Sure, buy none of these elements are unique or unforgettable but combined, this web this comedy could’ve actually worked.
With a decent script, of course.
That’s the trouble here for this Kevin Hart-led vehicle that never hits the right notes and will likely end up as one of 2014’s worst films (and that’s saying something in January). Hart plays Ben Barber, a fast-talking security officer who aspires to be a policeman in Atlanta. He also hopes to marry his long-time girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter), his one-note love interest. Standing in his way is James (Ice Cube), Angela’s control-freak of a brother who is surprisingly— considering his penchant for silly antics— a well-respected member of the police force.
Early on, we see James as the loose-cannon he really is. “You thought I was crazy. Nah baby. I’m nuts,” he says before we see the accuracy of that statement. Soon enough, this police officer is breaking into his sister’s home and warning her about locking the door. Later, when he’s decided to take his would-be brother-in-law on a police ride along, he casually walks into his sister’s bedroom where Angela and Ben are lying in bed together. Sure, the character is supposed to be intense but there’s a line where intensity becomes creepiness and James is just creepy.
When the ride along commences, James sets Ben up for failure several times but all of the gags show the police officers at their worst. From a ridiculous confrontation with a gang of bikers to the disgusting display of a man disrobing and pouring honey over himself at a local grocery story (to the outrage of nearby shoppers), the writers present the police department as a place of low morals with officers having way too much time on their hands.
Eventually, the unfunny antics lead James into a real case where he is called to locate the elusive master criminal Omar (Laurence Fishburne), who will soon be participating in a major arms deal. The climax culminates in an over-long discussion between the heroes and the villains about the deal. If people think that Bond villains take their time killing their enemy, they should witness the absurd talk-off here that revolves around an absurd premise that the villains stupidly buy into.
Of course, the film’s conclusion arrives packed with the faux sentimentality you would expect in a feature like this. Nothing has really changed— James is still insanely protective of his sister— but for the story’s sake, everyone gets along.
It’s hard to dislike Hart for making a stale comedy here. He’s so eager to earn laughs that people might think that the movie is actually funny. It’s not and viewers are left taking a trip to nowhere in Ride Along.
Review by: John Hanlon