Director: Tim Story
Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, Laurence Fishburne
Release Date (US): 17th January, 2014
Company: Universal Studios/Relativity Media
“Oh damn, it’s Sir Scream-A-Lot!” – James Payton; “That’s not… I was responding to a hostile situation James. You call for back-up when there’s a hostile situation!” – Ben Barber
Ride Along brings together Ice Cube (21 Jump Street) and Kevin Hart (Let Me Explain) on a Tim Story (Fantastic Four) driven buddy-cop ride through Atlanta. Big mouthed security guard, Ben Barber (Hart), is looking to take things further with his girlfriend, Angela (Tika Sumpter, Sparkle). The only thing is his way is Angela’s brother James (Cube), a tough-as-nails cop for the APD. In order to secure James’ blessing, Ben must go on a ‘ride along’ and work with him for a day, and thus prove himself as a wannabe cop and husband.
On the whole, Ride Along delivers just enough laughs to make it watchable (thanks, largely, to the livewire presence of Hart), but the script never entertains enough to ever really make this a worthwhile buddy-cop movie. Where this movie suffers most is in originality. Director Tim Story brings nothing new to the genre, and instead creates a sporadically funny movie that loses steam in the last half an hour.
With screenwriting credentials that never inspired much confidence, Greg Coolidge (Sorority Boys), Jason Mantzoukas (The Dictator), Phil Hay (R.I.P.D.) & Matt Manfredi (Clash Of The Titans) fail to cover themselves in any glory at all here. A vast chunk of the story revolves around various slapstick-heavy scenarios, propped up only by some excellent improvisation from Hart. More tedious, however, is the overall plot about a local crime lord named ‘Omar’, which builds towards a predictable and lifeless finale.
“What’s up *little* man? – Kid; “What are you, about 3″10, 3″11?” – Ben;
“Yeah, but you know what I’mma do? Grow! What are you gonna do? Stretch?“ – Kid
As implied earlier, stand-up comedian Kevin Hart is the true star of piece – head and shoulders above the rest of the cast (figuratively…). His trademark loud and bouncy performance as the diminutive Ben may irritate a minority, but really injected some much needed energy into this otherwise lifeless flick. Hart’s a comic lead on the rise, blessed with an electric yet insanely likeable persona that endears him to audiences.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the rest of the cast. The movie’s other star, Ice Cube, is given a one-note character, and is made to growl and sulk in the background while his co-lead brings the laughs, making for an uneven buddy-cop relationship. Tika Sumpter works fine alongside Hart’s eccentricities, without ever being noticeable. Elsewhere, John Leguizamo (Ice Age) is completely wasted as a side character, while Laurence Fishburne’s (The Matrix) only ever turns up to pocket a pay check for five minutes ‘work’.
Direction & Tone
Tim Story is a director who has his fair share fans – as well as a much larger proportion of critics. One could argue this isn’t without reason. He’s a man who somehow managed to make two terrible Marvel flicks in what was arguably the golden age of superhero movies. While Ride Along is not as bad as either of his Fantastic Four instalments, it shares a similar lack of creativity. It’s greatest asset is its comedy lead – not its filmmakers.
- Ben Barber breaking up a high-school scuffle: “You’re White! You’re White! You don’t fight!”
- It is just me, or does Kevin Hart remind you of a less angry, more funny Kanye West?
- It also wouldn’t surprise me if Kanye West has ever referred to himself as “Black Hammer”
- I don’t think I’ll ever personally be able to forgive Tim Story. To me, he’ll always be the director who turned Galactus into a cloud. *Sigh*
- It’s a busy year for Hart. He next headlines February’s About Last Night, before re-teaming this film’s meteorologist/director for Think Like A Man Too
For the most part, Ride Along is silly, repetitive and, at times, feels too long, but is redeemed a little by Kevin Hart’s onscreen antics and improvisation. It’s a slightly-above-average comedy that fits right into the consistently lacklustre January movie season.