Movie Review: Ride Along
Austin360.com | Austin American-Statesman
“Ride Along” is a not particularly good, reasonably crowd-pleasing comedy designed as a vehicle for Kevin Hart first and Ice Cube second. Let’s consider each gentleman in turn.
There’s no question that Hart is Having a Moment. One of the most popular stand-up comics in the world, the 34-year-old cranked it out of the park in two strong stand-up concert films (“Laugh at My Pain” and “Let Me Explain”) and is incredibly funny in the brilliant-but-underseen BET comedy series “Real Husbands of Hollywood.”
In movies, Hart has largely played what once was known as the Chris Tucker role (see also “Think Like A Man” — also directed by “Ride Along” helmer Tim Story —and “This Is the End”).
That is absolutely the case in “Ride Along.” (Chris, we will never forget you, especially in “The Fifth Element.”)
Then there is 44-year-old Ice Cube.
How you respond to Ice Cube in “Ride Along” is a surefire way to tell if you’re old.
If you have aged out of the coveted 18-to-34 demographic, then it is massively weird seeing Ice Cube play a cop, especially a tough, roughing-up-suspects cop.
To be fair, this is not Cube’s first peace officer. Cops, he’s played a few: There was 1994’s “the Glass Shield,” 2011’s “Rampart” and in “21 Jump Street.”
But man alive, this is the man who wrote “Straight Outta Compton,” “(Expletive) tha Police” and “Gangsta Gangsta,” the first three songs on the “Straight Outta Compton” album and the most galvanizing, controversial opening hat-trick in pop music history.
And if you are 18 to 34, you were, at most, about 9 when “Straight Outta Compton” blew minds and scared the FBI. You were probably not even born. You might have no memory of Ice Cube as anything but an actor. As a friend put it, you might even wonder why that old, fat guy is called Ice Cube.
So you probably have no problem at all with Cube as James, an Atlanta cop whose sister Angela (Tika Sumpter) is being courted by Ben (Hart), a high school security guard with plans to go to the police academy and marry Angela.
James is not exactly wild about this plan — he thinks Ben is a little soft and a little short for his sister — but agrees to take Ben on a ride along to prove his manhood.
James is hard, as we are told over and over. He declines to grab a Prius in order to chase a suspect and is convinced there is an Atlanta criminal mastermind named Omar controlling much of the city’s drug and gun trade. His boss (Bruce McGill, cashing a check) doesn’t believe him; his partners (John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen) are only sort of into his theory.
Ben, on the other hand, is looking pretty soft. He loves first-person shooter video games (his screen name is BlackHammer, and two guesses as to what the name refers) and longs to translate all of this gamer gun-nerd stuff to real police work.
Can Ben and James make it work? Will Ben earn James’ respect? Will Ben’s knowledge of video games come in handy? Come on, you know the answers.
“Ride Along,” which apparently needed four people to write it, is pure formula, but its an awkward one in spots. When James and Ben confront a “crazy” guy in a supermarket, it’s hard not to think of the four cops who were recently acquitted in Orange County for the beating death of Kelly Thomas, a schizophrenic homeless man. Yikes.
Hart’s energy is infectious, and he is genuinely funny. But “Ride Along,” for which a sequel is already in the works, feels like wasted time for both actors; they can and have done better work.
As for Cube … this is the strength of street knowledge?