Ride Along Review
Kevin Hart tries frantically to grab the wheel, but Ride Along still feels like 48 Hours...and not the movie.
Sometimes concepts just sound better on paper. That could be the epitaph written on every January’s frigid set of wide releases. Because let’s face it, if your movie is coming out in January, odds are something went wrong along the way. And when that something happens to a premise as naturally appealing as Ride Along, it’s a real cinematic waste of a detour.Don’t believe me? Keep an eye on the box office this weekend; Ride Along is about to topple a Tom Clancy espionage would-be blockbuster that features Chris Pine and Keira Knightley in its cast. And there’s a reason: the premise should be pretty sweet for a one-and-done laugher that combines the awkwardness of Meet the Parents with the buddy cop giggles of 48 Hours. Plus, Ice Cube. So, why is the result so unfunny?Kevin Hart is Ben Barber, a cross between Gaylord Focker and Billy Ray Valentine, who one day decides that he will propose to Angela Payton (Tika Sumpter), the perfect girlfriend that only wants him to play video games slightly less. However, feeling the need to prove himself, Ben enrolls into the police academy to impress Angela’s older brother, Atlanta PD Det. James Payton (Ice Cube), in an effort to gain his blessing. Wanting to shake off this unassuming interloper before he becomes a permanent part of the family, James takes Ben on a “ride along” through the most asinine parts of being a day-to-day cop until they come across a very irregular situation: super gangster Omar, an insidious boogeyman that nobody’s ever met and lived to speak of. Hijinks, followed by boredom, ensues.Despite spending almost the whole film in the passenger seat, Hart takes the wheel from almost the first frame. There is some by-the-numbers shootout and car chase in the movie’s opening moments, but little of the creativity and slyness found in director Tim Story’s earliest Barbershop gold (also with Ice Cube) is present here. Unfortunately, this is Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer vintage Story, which means all the action has a slap-and-dash sitcom shine to it, despite probably costing more than a whole season’s worth of Louie. After the padded prologue kills five minutes, Hart is allowed to appear and quickly riff on his stand-up material, adjusted to the importance of video games, why kids should stay in school, and the size of his “hammer.” The half a dozen or so chuckles to be found in Ride Along are all largely thanks to Hart’s comic timing, particularly during a third act twist that anyone will predict if they pay attention to the cast credits at the top of the movie. Nonetheless, what works in a comedy cellar will not necessarily lend itself to creating a character worth investing in for even a meager 100 minutes. One of Hart’s comedy idols, Eddie Murphy, would have devoured this role 30 years ago and made it another unforgettable character filled with charisma, anger, and an effortless ability to enamor anyone within the Tristate area. Regrettably, Hart can best settle for when he gets to play off the height disparity between himself and a cameoing Laurence Fishburne. But Hart never really had a chance to keep this star vehicle on the road when his wingman was passed out with his foot on the accelerator. Given the right role, Ice Cube can be hilarious. He was a standout in Tim Story’s 2002 Barbershop, and he was allowed to steal almost all of his scenes from Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 2012’s surprisingly bouncy 21 Jump Street. However, the deceivingly simple role of being the unimpressed badass who must learn to respect Hart by the 60-minute mark (it’s like clockwork) is as elusive to Ice Cube as any chemistry existing between the two stars. They’re in almost entirely different movies that share the faint similarity of being disastrously unfunny.John Leguizamo and Bryan McGill are on hand to offer some background banter as a pair of detectives who have even less patience for Hart’s schtick than Ice Cube, but like the rest of the movie, they sit around waiting for a set-up so old that it would have been booed during Vaudeville. With punchlines this telegraphed, they land more like gentle passing breezes in the night.Somewhere in the process of making a buddy cop comedy with the situational humor of a familial farce, Ride Along got way from a film that looks like it should run like a muscle car, and instead settled for a sputtering pace only fit for the golf course. It ultimately does feel like 48 Hours. Unfortunately, I don’t mean the movie. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek.