Ride Along – Film Review

How funny you find the new action/comedy Ride Along depends on how funny you find comedian Kevin Hart.  His non-stop, motor-mouth patter is the kind that can either amuse or annoy; think Chris Tucker on speed but without the high-pitch voice

Ride Along has a simple concept.  Ice Cube plays Atlanta cop, James whose sister Angela (Tika Sumpter) is living with diminutive high-school security guard, Ben (Kevin Hart).  James really doesn’t like Ben.  He’s a chromosome away from being a midget,” James growls. 

 

You don’t like me because you don’t know me,” Ben tells the cop.  No,” corrects James.  “I don’t like you ‘coz I do know you.”

James is aware of how badly his potential brother-in-law wants to ditch his security guard uniform and become a cop, so in order to scare the living daylights out of him – and hopefully ruin the relationship with his sister – he invites the man to ride along with him for one day in the police car.

The situations James initially puts Ben through are generally mild – asking a biker gang to stop loitering outside of a bar, arresting a man for disturbing the peace at a fruit market – all of which gives comedian Hart a chance to run his mouth at full speed while Ice Cube stands back and mostly rolls his eyes in exasperation.  I’m cleaning up the streets so good you’ll be able to eat off ‘em,” Ben tells his girlfriend over the phone.

But then things get nasty.  As the day becomes night, Ben and James find themselves embroiled in something far more dangerous involving illegal gun-running, murder and a criminal so dangerous, powerful and mysterious, even his own henchmen are not sure what their boss looks like.

The film appears to have been designed to make Ice Cube the lead, and all the pre-publicity appears designed to suggest that, but it’s Hart through sheer force of his continuous bluster that takes control while Ice Cube takes a back seat.  With his continual rat-a-tat delivery, the comedian can spout a page of dialog in seconds, and while some of it is funny, chunks of it are simply drivel. 

 

Perhaps the biggest problem with the film is that its construction and setups are based on variations of things seen many times before, like the angry, hard-nosed police lieutenant (Bruce McGill) whose every scene consists of chewing his men out, or the unlikely character of the pint-sized security guard eventually saving the day in a way that in reality would’ve have got him killed within the first few seconds of starting his frenetic, verbal spiel.  The degree to which you’ll laugh depends on how funny you’re amused by the obvious, though admittedly, the sight of watching Hart fly back through the air after firing a particularly powerful gun is comical, a gag that gets repeated during the end credits.

But here’s the real problem: Presumably we’re supposed to side with Kevin Hart’s character and hope that he succeeds in winning over his soon-to-be brother-in-law, but it’s a setup that backfires.  I’m siding with Ice Cube.  I wouldn’t want Hart’s character in the family, either.

 MPAA Rating:  PG-13    Length:  100 Minutes    Overall Rating:  5 (out of 10)

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