After years languishing in the shadows over at New Line while the studio argued over casting, Universal has announced they've acquired the comedy “Ride Along” in turnaround and nabbed Story to direct the film too. Unlike New Line though, Universal has a pretty clear idea about casting, securing comedian Kevin Hart to join Ice Cube (who's remained attached) for the lead roles. The script has also had a tumultuous journey, being penned first by Greg Coolidge, then “The Dictator” co-star Jason Mantzoukas, before finally getting a re-write from scribes Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay. It follows a grade-school teacher (Hart) who has his sight on marrying his girlfriend, but first must pass a rigorous set of trials from her policeman brother (Cube) who harbors some strong feeling on the couple's union. In the initial draft by Coolidge, a racial element was much more pronounced, with the cop angry over his sister's interest in a white suitor, but it appears that aspect has been dropped from the overall story with Hart's inclusion.
Beginning as a low-budget question mark over at Warner Bros., “Ride Along” has transformed into a highly bankable venture, thanks largely to its massively successful talent behind and in front of the camera. While on a story level the film seems pretty average, Hart is an undeniable comic presence, while Cube is coming off an amusing turn in “21 Jump Street” and should be able to bring a ferocity to his role as a rogue cop. Universal is confident enough, anyways, as they've fast-tracked the film for an October shoot date, so keep your eyes peeled for more details on the film soon. [Deadline]