Buddy cop movies, the cornerstone of 80s cinema, have been in sharp decline since the “Lethal Weapon” series came to a tragic end with its fourth installment. These days, we’re left with poor imitations and slapstick wannabes. “Ride Along” is one such wannabe. With a paper-thin plot, and no real effort on anyone’s part, it’s pretty much what you’d expect. It does, however, have one asset on its side that raises it slightly above its less enjoyable ilk.
“Ride Along” introduces us to Det. James Payton (Ice Cube), an Atlanta cop on the toughest case of his career- finding the mysterious crime lord, Omar. But, prioritizing like a champ, he finds the time to harass his sister’s boyfriend, Ben (Kevin Hart). Ben is a security guard and video game aficionado who wants to get on the path to being a cop before proposing to his girlfriend, Angela (Tika Sumpter). James sees this as the perfect opportunity to rid himself of the “little man-smurf” as he calls him, by taking Ben on a ride along to scare him away from the force, and prove he’s not good enough for Angela. Along the way Ben finds multiple opportunities to use his video game skills to uncover clues in James’s case, and yada yada yada, everything goes boom. Trite? Cliche? Contrived? Checks all around, but it’s not as bad as you’d think.
“Today was a good day.”
Obviously the film has few redeeming qualities. Ice Cube is not an actor. He’s a rapper, and a great rapper. And now he’s in movies. That is all. He’s a bit too likable to completely write off, but he does nothing for this movie. The action is half-assed and uninspired. It’ll remind you of that awful Samuel L Jackson-Eugene Levy team up, “The Man”. John Leguizamo and Laurence Fishburne show up for a bit and do their best to bring class to the picture, but there’s just none to be had, and so they just seem out of place.
The film’s only real asset is Kevin Hart. He’s just so damn likable, you forget he’s in a junk film. He’s funny pretty much all the time, and gives the movie a much needed boost during its plodding story. Surprisingly, the film’s lacklustre trailers don’t do it justice, and many of the funniest parts of the film are not shown at all. The scenes before and after the firing range are hilarious, and had me genuinely laughing out loud. As well as a brief scene in the third act where Hart’s character is high on morphine. I was figuratively in stitches.
“I’m starting cases on all you bitches! King Kong ain’t got shit on me!”
Please do not think that I’m endorsing this movie in any way, I’m not. It’s bad. It’s got nothing of substance going for it, and a lot of its intended comedy is just dumb and stale. Kevin Hart does add a nice jolt of energy and likability to the flick, and that’s about the most enjoyable thing you’re going to get out of it. If he could find a solid comedy film with a decent script, I think he could really prove himself as an actor. Sadly, this is not it.