Review by-Jarrett Leahy
When an actor on the rise suddenly hits the big time, it’s hard to fault them for cashing in on every opportunity offered. However, from Christmas 2013 to Valentines Day 2014, movie fans are being bombarded by not one, not two, but three films starring Kevin Hart, the latest loud mouthed, comedic flavor of the moment. The novelty surrounding last month’s Grudge Match, Hart’s first winter effort, quickly wore off with the viewing public, and not even a first rate media blitz complete with its own catchy Top 40 hit jingle could help keep it from tanking. However, less than a month later, Hart is back, starring along side rapper/actor Ice Cube in Hollywood’s latest attempt at a buddy cop comedy, Ride Along.
Ride Along…oh boy, where to start. The screenplay of this depth required 4 different movie writers who collectively had previously written scripts for R.I.P.D., Clash of the Titans (2010), Aeon Flux, The Tuxedo, Employee of the Month, and Sorority Boys. I’ll give you a moment to let the quality of those films wash over you…The basic premise for this paper thin script involves a school security guard Ben Barber (Hart), who has aspirations of becoming a police officer in order to better provide for his long time girlfriend Angela (Tika Sumpter). In order to impress Angela’s disapproving brother James (Ice Cube) who is a detective on the police force, Ben agrees to go on a “Ride Along” during one of his shifts. Needless to say innocent hijinks snowballs into a shoot em up action spectacular complete with car chases, illegal guns, money, crooked cops, and the overabundance of prodigious explosions.
Comedies, even some of the sillier ones, can be a great way to have a few laughs and escape the doldrums of everyday life. But ultimately, the biggest problem with Ride Along is there’s simply just not enough laughs to warrant the unfortunate surplus of eye rolling moments. When examining the comedic talents of Kevin Hart, it unfortunately appears that he doesn’t have much beyond jokes about his height (5’2″) and squawking around like the deranged chicken. And Ice Cube’s character was nothing more than a hardass caricature filled with one bag cop cliché after another. Ride Along had a $48 million opening weekend, ranking it among the biggest January box office openings of all time. And that is a shame, because it encourages the studios to continue to make dull, retread comedies like this, which would explain why I recently read plans have already been announced for a sequel, geniusly titled Ride Along 2.-JL