Directed by Tim Story. Starring Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Tika Sumpter, Bruce McGill, Laurence Fishburne, Bryan Callen. (2014, PG-13, 100 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Jan. 17, 2014
This rote buddy-cop action comedy is instantly forgettable. We’ve seen it all before, and worse than that, we’ve seen it done far better in films ranging from last year’s The Heat to Eighties classics such as Midnight Run and Lethal Weapon. Most of all, Ride Along seems struck from the same template that produced the Rush Hour series, which paired an all-business Jackie Chan with the live-wire Chris Tucker for comic effect. Substitute Ice Cube and Kevin Hart and you have the hoped-for birth of a new franchise: Ride Alo-o-o-o-ng.
James (Cube) is an undercover detective in the Atlanta Police Department who wears a permanent scowl. His lieutenant (McGill) gives him grief about his fruitless pursuit of a phantom criminal named Omar, and his sister Angela (Sumpter) – his only living relative – wants to marry Ben (Hart), a video-game-playing joker of whom he disapproves. Ben works as a high school security guard but wants to become a police officer. Thinking it a sure way to dissuade Ben from police work and thereby lose Angela’s respect for him, James has Ben ride along with him for a day on patrol – a day that he makes sure is filled with gnarly incidents.
Kevin Hart does his best to enliven the film with a motormouth routine that’s bound to land some hits along with the misses. The only original element of the film (which had a committee of writers) comes from Ben’s deep involvement in video gaming, which affords him some specialized knowledge in the heat of battle – even if Ben is a nincompoop when it comes to handling a real gun with live ammo. Tim Story previously directed Cube in Barbershop and Hart in Think Like a Man – both enormous successes. But if he was hoping to double the success by partnering up these two, he’s bound to be disappointed. Ride Along may post strong numbers during its initial release on this holiday weekend, but it’s likely to run out of gas in future laps.