US Release Date: 01-17-2014
Directed by: Tim Story
- Ice Cube, as
- James Payton
- Kevin Hart, as
- Ben Barber
- John Leguizamo, as
- Bruce McGill, as
- Lt. Brooks
- Tika Sumpter, as
- Angela Payton
- Bryan Callen, as
- Laurence Fishburne, as
- Dragos Bucur, as
- Gary Owen, as
- Crazy Cody
- Jacob Latimore, as
- Jay Pharoah, as
- Benjamin Flores Jr. as
- Morris the Kid
Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in Ride Along
Kevin Hart has been appearing in films for more than ten years now but has only recently become the comic du jour. This is not so much due to him suddenly standing out in a single particular role. No, this is due to his diligence and all of his small acting roles in movies and on television building him up to become a familiar face. Although Ice Cube gets top billing, Ride Along is Kevin Hart's first real starring role and he alone makes this movie at all entertaining.
Ice Cube plays hardened Atlanta police detective James Payton whose sister Angela, played by generically beautiful Tika Sumpter, is in love with High School security guard Ben Barber, played by Hart. Ben, who lives with Angela, likes to spend all of his free time playing an on-line Call of Duty type video game. He prides himself on his gaming “skills” while James sees that as ridiculous. Ben wants to join the police academy with the idea of both impressing James and making good for Angela. To deter his fantasy, James invites Ben on a ride along with the idea of scaring him out of wanting to become a police officer.
James takes Ben to a loitering situation involving a biker gang and irresponsibly places Ben in potential danger. Nothing that James does with Ben is safe or realistic. Any cop who placed their “ride along” in the situations that James does with Ben would likely get into serious trouble.
James has been working for three years with two other police officers on a gun smuggling ring involving a mysterious criminal named Omar. That lengthy investigation suddenly and coincidently comes to a head during Ben’s ride along. Although Ben proves to be a bit helpful due to his mad gaming skills, he is in way over his head and the fact that James keeps him around is likewise a stretch of the imagination.
This is a comedy and we are expected to excuse such plot holes and ridiculous set ups. The dialogue is nothing to brag about either. When breaking up an argument between two teenagers, Hart yells, “Hey! You're white, you're white! You don't fight!” When James sends Ben to ask a child something in a park, the child pretends he is a molester yelling how he wants to see his junk and shouting, “Stranger danger!”
The best this film has to offer is Kevin Hart bouncing off the walls. He has a high energy level and his enthusiasm to impress James and Angela is palpable. His big scene comes when he tries to rescue James but his reaction to discovering he is shot and the following scene in the hospital is my favorite. His Ben is very easy to like, even though James does not, for very few reasons given other than James is a protective older brother.
Ride Along has some action and a bit of heart but it is only Hart that makes this film at all watchable. Cube has little to do but act tough and disapproving. He is an adequate straight man for Hart but almost any male actor could have filled that bill. Kevin Hart could potentially become an A-list star but he is going to have to find better scripts than this.
Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in Ride Along.
Kevin Hart is the only reason for seeing this movie and even he can only do so much with this script. Ride Along is a hodgepodge of stuff stolen from other, better movies. But then the entire buddy-cop genre has been done to death. Whether you are going for laughs like this movie is or going for drama like Training Day (which this movie references several times) that tit has been milked dry.
Actually the script to Ride Along does more than merely reference Training Day. During the scene Eric mentioned with the biker gang, Kevin Hart quotes entire lines from Denzel Washington's speech at the end of that movie. It's one of the more inspired moments of comedy in this movie and Hart's delivery is hilarious. The script also contains a joke referencing Ice Cube's music career. After playing mean pranks on Kevin Hart's character all day, Ice Cube (as James Payton) quotes from one of his own most popular songs when he says, “Today was a good day.” That's about as creative as the script gets.
Thank god for Kevin Hart. He makes every scene he's in worth watching by the sheer force of his manic energy and a personality that's a likable blend of bluster and self-deprecation. He can change directions -comedy wise- in a split second. He is equally adept at delivering one-liners and taking pratfalls. In case you haven't already guessed, I'm a fan of his.
Ice Cube, on the other hand, continues to tread water, playing his same old stock character - the gruff tough-guy. Actually, James Payton is one of his least-likable characters. He's a bully who -as my brother noted- has no real reason for disliking Ben as much as he does. I guess coming up with some actual character motivation would have been too much work for these lazy writers.
To be fair there are a few laughs to be had along the way. The climax where Ben poses as Omar, only to have the real guy show up in the form of Laurence Fishburne, is probably the best scene in the movie. But that's not really saying much. I agree with Eric about the scene in the hospital after Ben gets shot. It gives the movie a bit of heart.
Buddy-cop comedies have become almost as common as superhero movies these days. 2014 also saw the release of Let's Be Cops. Both that movie and this one earned enough money at the box office to warrant sequels. Although I will most likely end up seeing it, I could certainly live without Ride Along 2.
Photos © Copyright Cube Vision (2014)