Stars: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen, Laurence Fishburne, Dragos Bucur, Gary Owen, Jacob Latimore, Jay Pharoah, Benjamin Flores Jr. | Written by Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi | Directed by Tim Story
As someone who absolutely adored the Ice Cube buddy cop comedy All About the Benjamins I was really looking forward to Cube’s latest buddy comedy Ride Along, especially given that it also stars man of the moment Kevin Hart, whose career is currently in take off. But then (at least here in the UK) All About the Benjamins was something of an underrated gem just waiting to be discovered by those who enjoy the genre; but with this film hitting the top of the US box office it brings with it a ton of hype for its UK debut, which I had to wonder if it could ever live up to… Plus, on the surface, FOUR writers doesn’t usually bode well for any production!
Directed by Tim Story, who previously worked with Ice Cube on Barbershop, and also helmed the two Fantastic Four movies (which I seemingly like a lot more than my fellow movie bloggers) Ride Along is, at its core, a cliched, stereotypical buddy comedy and like all good buddy comedies it lives and dies by its cast. The films follows high-school security guard Ben (Hart) who, the past two years, has been trying to show decorated APD detective James (Cube) that he’s more than just a video-game junkie who’s unworthy of James’ sister, Angela (Sumpter).
When Ben finally gets accepted into the academy, he thinks he’s earned the seasoned policeman’s respect and asks for his blessing to marry Angela.Knowing that a ride along will demonstrate if Ben has what it takes to take care of his sister, James invites him on a shift designed to scare the hell out of the trainee. But when the wild night leads them to the most notorious criminal in the city, James will find that his new partner’s rapid-fire mouth is just as dangerous as the bullets speeding at it.
Where to begin… Well, Ride Along has a pretty decent, if (as anyone would expect, cliched) story and there are some great one-liners. Plus the film has some decent action set pieces but, and this is a huge deal breaker, Ice Cube and Kevin Hart have no chemistry – well not compared to Omar Epps and Ice Cube in All About the Benjamins. It’s not like either actor isn’t given a chance to shine – Cube can do “grizzled lone-wolf cop” in his sleep and Hart, well he’s given plenty of chances to show-boat, nowhere more so than when he pretends to be the films villain.
But, and this is despite the characters scripted animosity, together the actors just don’t gel. And it’s because the pair don’t really work as “buddies” that the rest of the film falls flat. Like I said earlier, such a cliched story doesn’t hold up to intense scrutiny and without a likeable pair of leads (or at least leads that work well together, raising each others game), story becomes key. And in this case an average story ends up making for a supremely average film.
I hate to keep comparing the two but the film lacks the fun and charm of All About the Benjamins and instead plays like a Beverly Hills Cop wannabe – Beverly Hills Cop III that is! Ride Along will certainly find it’s fans here in the UK as it has in the US, but I doubt that mainstream audiences will take quite as well to a film with a story that has been done many times before – and better.
Ride Along is released in the UK on February 28th.