Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: Zach Galifianakis Takes On Brad Pitt In Latest 'Between Two Ferns' Plus Louis C.K. Stops By Watch: First Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' Brings Mass Destruction Along With Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Watch: First Trailer For 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron,' Brings Mass Destruction Along With Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver Watch: 'Star Wars' Prequels Recut Into 2 Hour 40 Minute 'Turn to the Darkside: Episode 3.1' Watch: 'Star Wars' Prequels Recut Into 2 Hour 40 Minute 'Turn to the Darkside: Episode 3.1' Edward Norton Says He Didn't Return To Play Hulk Because He Wanted More "Diversity" In His Film Roles Edward Norton Says He Didn't Return To Play Hulk Because He Wanted More "Diversity" In His Film Roles Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race? Oscar Buzz: Who Could Be Set For Nods In The Supporting Actress Race? Juliette Binoche Says Her Performance In 'Godzilla' Made Quentin Tarantino Cry Juliette Binoche Says Her Performance In 'Godzilla' Made Quentin Tarantino Cry Listen To Chvrches "Get Away" From The Rescored Version Of Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive' Plus Check Out The Trailer Listen To Chvrches "Get Away" From The Rescored Version Of Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive' Plus Check Out The Trailer The Essentials: The 10 Best Michael Keaton Performances The Essentials: The 10 Best Michael Keaton Performances George Lucas Says Studios "Don't Have Any Imagination And Don't Have Any Talent" George Lucas Says Studios "Don't Have Any Imagination And Don't Have Any Talent" Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 7 ‘Friendless Child’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 7 ‘Friendless Child’ Watch: Spoiler-ific Local News Report On 'Batman v. Superman' That Caused WB To Lauch A Lawsuit Watch: Spoiler-ific Local News Report On 'Batman v. Superman' That Caused WB To Lauch A Lawsuit Watch: Baz Luhrmann's Chanel No. 5 Short Film "The One That I Want" Starring Gisele Bündchen Watch: Baz Luhrmann's Chanel No. 5 Short Film "The One That I Want" Starring Gisele Bündchen WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting WTF: Horror Hit 'Annabelle' Yanked From French Theaters Due To Rioting Gone Girls And Gone Boys: 11 Films That Dissect Marriage Gone Girls And Gone Boys: 11 Films That Dissect Marriage Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: 'Ride Along' Starring Ice Cube And Kevin Hart

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist January 15, 2014 at 12:10PM

Say this for “Ride Along,” this Friday’s big action buddy comedy: the two leads are black and its villains are a mixture of black, white and Hispanic. At no point during the film does it ever feel like tokenism or pandering, just an attempt, finally, at recreating an honest, plausible cultural makeup. The story takes place in a relatively generic Atlanta, but the streets have a bit of an edge to them: when one character insults another by guessing they’re from Decatur, there’s no attempt to explain the putdown to the non-locals in the audience, only attitude.
2
Ride Along

Say this for “Ride Along,” this Friday’s big action buddy comedy: the two leads are black and its villains are a mixture of black, white and Hispanic. At no point during the film does it ever feel like tokenism or pandering, just an attempt, finally, at recreating an honest, plausible cultural makeup. The story takes place in a relatively generic Atlanta, but the streets have a bit of an edge to them: when one character insults another by guessing they’re from Decatur, there’s no attempt to explain the putdown to the non-locals in the audience, only attitude.

It’s unfortunate that the rest of Tim Story’s film feels so by-the-book. The picture opens with a bungled bust followed by a gratuitous chase scene, and when it ends with hero cop James (Ice Cube) being chastised by a gruff boss (Bruce McGill), the film assumes that you’re not familiar with generations openly mocking the same idea. Didn’t Cube himself lampoon the idea of a hot-headed police chief in “21 Jump Street”? The non-warning warning that James receives for his actions simply promises that there will be escalating aggravations between the two, as if James was some sort of rookie and not one of those officers who breaks rules and ambiguously “gets the job done.”

Ride Along

Spastic Kevin Hart, in crowd-pleasing PG-13 mode, plays Ben, the overeager beau to James’ sister Angela (Tika Sumpter—thankless). The film almost surgically arranges its pieces early on, establishing James as a hardass before introducing Ben like a buffoonish child. Ben labors during the day as a school security guard, but he lives with his girlfriend in a massive home perfect for an elaborate videogame system, cackling as he commands a battalion during an interactive war game, oblivious to his gorgeous girlfriend’s attentions. He’s registered for the police exam though, and it’s his chance to finally take Angela’s hand while proving to James that he is not the early-Robin Williams-level pinball he seems to be.

What follows is a ride along, one that Ben hopes will boost his diminutive stature in James’ eyes, even though James has a “Training Day”-level of torment planned. While James gets some police work done, he traps Ben in a series of increasingly implausible sitcom hijinks episodes, cases where he’s berated by children, chased and assaulted by naked men, and forced to defend himself against a biker gang that’s been doctored for maximum ratings palatability: the film keeps feeling like an R-rated picture compromised into the lower rating, particularly considering the racial tension with the gang that feels like only a few snippets of dialogue were removed. Later on, a character utters a well-placed, “Forget you!” except that his lips move less.

Ride Along Kevin Hart Ice Cube

Hart is essaying a familiar part, that of the over-aggressive manchild, and steals a few laughs from unflattering material. He may be the master of onscreen irrational exuberance: when his chest pumps out and his voice quickens, he seems a good three feet taller than when he shrinks and shrieks in fear, something that happens a bit too often to remain fresh. Cube, an experienced onscreen performer nonetheless, can’t create a believable characterization out of a tired trope, the lone wolf cop with a perma-scowl. This is not a knock against his weight, particularly since Cube has been compact and muscled since his delightfully dopey action vehicle “XxX: State of the Union,” but here Cube reaches for a gun the way you’d reach for a donut. James is supposed to come off as the Last Hard Man, but Cube can’t help but sometimes go soft and slack, playing to the audience, often in an attempt to match Hart’s chaotic energy.

The film livens towards the home stretch, as Ben is relied on to out-think his opponents, making this the latest in a long line of films where a character actually gains combat acumen by toiling for hours in front of a joystick. Consumerism rewarded. It does, however, allow Hart a very funny, vaguely improv-ish scene where he must provide a distraction to save James from certain doom. The punchline to the moment, however, is the appearance of Laurence Fishburne in a key role. He rips into his dialogue like steak, savoring every word as if he were paid by the syllable. For a moment, we’re in a different movie, one where someone has decided to singlehandedly deconstruct a cliché. It’s a very short moment. [C-]

This article is related to: Reviews, Review, Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Ride Along, Laurence Fishburne, Tim Story


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates