Buddy cop films have been a Hollywood staple for years upon years. Some of my all-time favorites would have to be: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Point Break, 21 Jump Street, and Lethal Weapon. These films consist of two people with opposing personalities that are forced to work together in some type of police investigation that make them eventually become friends in the end. While the character types may differ significantly with every new iteration of the genre, the plots unfortunately tend to follow the same path over and over. Director Tim Story’s newest film entitled Ride Along is the most recent addition to the genre pitting two Hollywood celebrities together onscreen.
Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) is a school rent-a-cop who has aspirations to be an actual police officer. When not playing tons and tons of video games he has fun with his live-in girlfriend named Angela Payton (Tika Sumpter) who he wishes to marry. James Payton (Ice Cube) is her hardnosed police detective brother who Ben needs to get the blessing of in order to put a ring on Angela’s finger. When Ben asks for the blessing, James says he will give it as long as he agrees to a 24-hour ride along with him. The two then go on patrol of Atlanta with numerous comical incidents occurring and James uncovering more about a long-time case that he’s been working on.
The plot of the film is so generic and by-the-numbers that every single twist you can see coming from a mile away. It’s as if you were to take nearly any other buddy cop film and then replace the actors with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube and then rebrand the film Ride Along. Many great actors such as John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, and Laurence Fishburne adorn the cast and are completely criminally underutilized throughout. This is merely a paycheck film with almost no jokes that actually hit their mark until at least halfway through the film. There are definitely funny moments that happen but they are so sporadic that it is hard to deem the film a comedy.
While the overall typical plot of the film is pretty hard to stomach, slight instances of actual innovative ideas do appear. Due to the character of Ben being a video game enthusiast, they are able to work in certain geeky characteristics about him to help infuse some humor into the film. One of the best is the video game trope where in first-person shooters you are always able to find more ammo just laying on the ground. So at one point in the film Ben finds himself in a big firefight where he runs out of ammo. He then begins crawling on the ground with James berating him about video games not being real. As soon as James finishes his rant, Ben happens to find a gun clip on the ground and hilarity ensues.
The fact that the film doesn’t really try anything new or fresh is a definite statement about Hollywood as of late. Also, the fact that one of my favorite comedians is the main star of the film makes me feel even worse about not being able to recommend it. Perhaps with a much better and off the beaded path script the film could have broken some new ground, but unfortunately Ride Along is a ride not worth taking.
FINAL TAKE: 4/11
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About the Movie
Synopsis: A school rent-a-cop tries to get his girlfriend’s brother’s blessing by agreeing to go on a 24-hour police ride along.
Director: Tim Story
Cast: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, John Leguizamo, Laurence Fishburne
Run time: 100 min