Buddy cop movie with too many familiar stock elements. Ride Along is a showcase for Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, kind of a “48 Hrs.” meets “Training Day” meets whatever other mismatched cop movie you can think of. Ice Cube is stoic and intractable, and does that well, he’s a model tough guy. Hart can probably be a very funny guy, and he’s trying to do the excited motormouthed Eddie Murphy thing, but he’s working too hard to be this instant comic star and comes off instead spastic and hyperventilated. Neither guy is helped by director Tim Story (“Taxi,” “Fantastic Four”), who is such a mediocre director I kept counting the number of bad coverage shots and off-timed cutaways within a scene.
Hart has just made Ice Cube’s sister his fiancé (Tika Sumpter is the babe), but with his online videogame obsessions he comes off as lazy and ineffectual. Acceptance into the police academy has given him hope, and Ice Cube invites him on for a training day-esque ride along to scare him out of the career – and hopefully scare him to leave his sister. Ice Cube is the African-American Dirty Harry, discharging his gun several times a day on the job. I’ve heard most cops go years in-between using their guns but that’s real life, and this is just a movie (a movie fashioned on tons of other mediocre movies).
With the chance to bring down a high-profile gunrunner (Laurence Fishburne, looking puffy as Omar), Ice Cube decides to take him down same day. Hart is endangered too but opportunity knocks for him to come out of this a hero. This is one of those movies with a climactic warehouse showdown, which is laboriously followed up with an unnecessary second climax. Why is it that kingpins like Omar make huge strategic kidnapping and extortion mistakes only in dumb-as-a-barrel movies like this one?
I laughed a few times at Hart, but only during his obvious improvs where he got a rise out of me. He maybe has a movie star future but has got to be pickier about teaming up with a solid movie director, especially one with a knack for pacing. Hart chews every scene to death, when two or three spastic indulgences would have been enough. As for Ice Cube, he has enough screen presence to do a dozen of these kind of movies, but I’d really like to see him do more drama on occasion (he was impressive in “Rampart” recently). I’d be kinder to “Ride Along” as a nutty mindless movie, but too much of it is puerile and inane. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies in my time, but it’s also stale.
98 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
COMEDY / CRUDE HUMOR / WEEKEND MATINEE