Director: Tim Story
Cast: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tika Sumpter, John Leguizamo, Laurence Fishburne
Rated PG-13 | 100 Minutes
Release Date: January 17, 2013
Directed by Tim Story (Think Like a Man), Ride Along stars Kevin Hart as Ben, a hyperactive hardcore gamer who joins his potential brother-in-law James (Ice Cube), a detective, on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta in order to prove himself worthy of marrying Angela (Tika Sumpter), James’ sister.
Tim Story is the filmmaker responsible for such cinematic atrocities as Taxi, Fantastic Four, and Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The director came onto the scene in 2002 with the well-received comedy Barbershop, which also stars Ice Cube, but hasn’t made a decent movie since.
I’d like to tell you that Ride Along serves as a set of shock paddles to Story’s flatlining career, but this contrived mess of clichés is dead on arrival. An odd-couple comedy starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart has a lot of potential – just look at this clip from Conan – but Ride Along is such a colossal misfire because of its uninspired, unfunny script.
Originally written by Greg Coolidge (Sorority Boys), Ride Along was re-written by comedian Jason Mantzoukas before being re-written yet again by the dynamic duo of Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. If you’re unfamiliar with Hay and Manfredi, they’re responsible for forgettable failures like The Tuxedo, Aeon Flux, Clash of the Titans, and 2013’s R.I.P.D.
The actors are constantly fighting against this bland, tired script with their own schtick – Cube’s tough guy scowl and Hart’s fast-talking overconfidence – but it just isn’t enough. There are some laughs, don’t get me wrong, but you’d be better off watching one of Hart’s stand-up specials on Netflix than buying a ticket to Ride Along.
Everything just feels so contrived, flat, and derivative. From the unexciting action sequences to the predictable comedic bits, Ride Along is lightweight, forgettable fare for those who just want to turn their brain off for a couple hours and laugh at people getting shot and killed.
During a shoot-out, Hart’s character uses skills he learned via a Call of Duty-esque first-person shooter to save Cube’s life. There’s this idea that playing violent video games is perfect training for being a police officer or a soldier. That’s kind of messed up, right? I mean not only is Story giving weight to the idea that violent media creates violent individuals, but that police officers should shoot first and ask questions later.
Even more confusing is a scene where a criminal says he fired shots at Ice Cube’s character out of “self-defense.” Ice Cube – who might as well break the 4th wall and announce this not-so-subtle commentary on the shooting of Trayvon Martin – replies, “Self-defense? No offense but that’s bullshit!”
But wait, it’s OK for Kevin Hart, who plays a man-child with no police experience whatsoever, to go around Atlanta and shoot people? Sure it is, because he’s short and talks fast and makes goofy faces!
How people like Story, Hay, and Manfredi still get work amazes me. With any other job, you are judged by your previous work. If I’m a producer and I see crap like Taxi, Fantastic Four, Clash of the Titans, or R.I.P.D on your resume, there’s no way I’m hiring you to make a movie. I’d rather take a chance on a new filmmaker with a fresh voice (like Ryan Coogler) than someone who is guaranteed to disappoint.
Even though I’m a fan of Hart and Ice Cube, I can’t recommend Ride Along – it’s a noisy, shoddy comedy that aims for lowest common denominator laughs and makes no effort to try anything new or interesting.
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