“Life is almost too short to waste a lot of cash on American January releases, especially ones that are this predictable and dry.”

Ride Along is a cut-and-paste, buddy cop actioneer that seems to have assembled its screenplay by taking sentences from the screenplays of other films of the same genre and throwing them in this particular project unaltered. It combines the zealous energy of Kevin Hart with Ice Cube’s trademark meanness, a trait he can exercise when he sleeps, and throws them both into a dead-on-arrival storyline about the usual circumstances of street crime and mobsters with a romantic twist in an attempt to offer narrative leverage.

If that’s what you want, by all means, feast on Ride Along. If you want to hold out and spend your hard-earned money on future comedies of 2014, I don’t blame you. Life is almost too short to waste a lot of cash on American January releases, especially ones that are this predictable and dry. The opening scene shows us James Payton (Ice Cube), a slick, no-BS cop who doesn’t play by the rules, blatantly mouthing off to his superior officer in a totally unrealistic manner, making cocky justifications as to why he defies order and goes in the direction he does. “I’m not crazy, I’m nuts!,” Cube’s character eventually says, providing audiences with one of the many terribly ordinary and obvious lines to be heard in the film.

Ride Along
Directed by
Tim Story
Cast
Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter
Release Date
17 January 2014
Steve’s Grade: D

The real story here involves Ben Barber (Kevin Hart), a fast-talking, antsy security guard who finally gets accepted to the police academy, only to be paired up on a day-long ride along with James, his girlfriend’s brother. Ben has intentions of marrying James’ sister, but wants to know that – because they are foster siblings – he has his blessing to do so and his complete respect.

Ben and James have polar-opposite personalities, making them the perfect candidates to be a part of a buddy cop comedy that allows them to get into ridiculous situations and turn every small incident into a huge ordeal. Your response to the film will depend on how much you can stomach long scenes of shootouts and car-chases, forced and instantaneously tiresome scenes involving shouting matches that should be interrogations, scenes overplaying how outgunned Ben is for the police academy, and your tolerance for Kevin Hart in general, whose ubiquity has gone on to be a tad overbearing to say the least. Hart’s story is respectable and definitely one to relish, but with a theatrical comedy special that was more geared for Comedy Central and inclusions in three separate comedies over the course of a year, as well as appearances on talk shows, news channels, and even ESPN, breathlessly promoting his works (especially within the week Ride Along was released), he is working on making himself to be an insufferable media presence.


Not to mention, the film itself is so familiar it’s disheartening. Seeing as Cube and Hart are definitely likable actors, their pairing should be one to cherish, not to cheapen. These are actors that work well exhibiting their own common personality traits, but Ride Along trades that likability and potential for tired, interchangeable banter between the two actors and scenes more fixated on fast-paced franticness with loud hip-hop music playing.

The film was directed by Tim Story, responsible for giving us other urban efforts such as the amiable and worthwhile Barbershop and the tedious and frequently eye-rolling drama Think Like a Man. With Ride Along, story dabbles into a genre even more tired than the latter’s romantic comedy genre, and offers up nothing more than a poor showcase for two talented men, even if one of them is treading dangerously close to the thin-line of overexposure.

Review by Steve Pulaski, Lead Film Critic