Early, bloggy reviews of Ride Along have rolled in with phrases such as “perfectly acceptable” and “been-there-done-that,” suggesting the likely range of opinion. It’ll probably be a hit: Audiences are getting precisely what they’re promised.
This is the ol’ odd-couple cops routine, rigged up to support the pairing of Ice Cube, in the role of a snarling Atlanta police detective on the trail of a mysterious arms dealer, and Kevin Hart, as the detective’s prospective brother-in-law, a high school security guard with aspirations to join the force.
Hart’s best bits in Ride Along, such as they are and such as it is, hark back to the panicking-ninny routines of many other comedians, from Eddie Cantor to Rush Hour’s Chris Tucker.
The 2001 drama Training Day is name-checked in Ride Along, and some of the stuff in this diversion isn’t much less vile than anything Denzel Washington got up to in Training Day.
The story has a bizarre undertone. Cube’s character is so creepily protective of his sister, played by Tika Sumpter in various states of decorative undress, he comes off like someone who should be tailed, not someone doing the tailing.
Hart’s Ben Barber must prove his worthiness to his future in-law and show he has what it takes to be this movie’s idea of a good cop, measured in how many innocent bystanders come in for friendly fire. The rest of the movie is sexual molestation jokes, misjudged brutality and a general glorification of assault weapons. (The film’s rated PG-13, and it’d be pretty stupid to take anyone under 12.)
The supporting cast features John Leguizamo and Bryan Callen as Cube’s colleagues and Bruce McGill as the tetchy lieutenant.
Director Tim Story can’t do much with the screenplay, which smells of the eternally rewritten paste-up job. After Story’s loose, ingratiating work on Barbershop and Think Like a Man, I hoped for something more fun here. Ride Along, trading in too much action and not enough comedy, is best considered as the latest restaurant to open in an Olive Garden-type chain. No surprises. Pretty much like the last one you went to. Plus lots of breadsticks.
Ride Along (PG-13) ★★✩✩✩