Ride Along is a smooth one
Ice Cube movie benefits from fast-talking Kevin Hart
Saturday, Jan 25, 2014 06:00 am
Starring Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen and Laurence Fishburne
Directed by Tim Story
Written by Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
Rated: PG for coarse language and violence. Visit www.albertafilmratings.ca for more information.
Runtime: 100 minutes
Now playing at Cineplex Odeon North Edmonton and Scotiabank Theatre
The longevity of Ice Cube’s movie career has far exceeded what I already thought was possible. Now, it looks like it might be experiencing a bit of a late-stage revival, courtesy of Kevin Hart. The fast talking newcomer to the movie comedy scene might be stealing a page or two (or the whole book) from his predecessors – most notably Eddie Murphy and Chris Tucker – but that doesn’t take away the fact that his shtick still works.
In Ride Along, Hart plays Ben Barber, a fast talking security guard with an addiction to first person shooter video games and big dreams of becoming a bona fide police officer. His short stature often puts him into the position of being the brunt of height jokes but that doesn’t stop him from talking a big game. He’s also in a steady relationship with Angela (Tika Sumpter) whose overprotective brother is James (Ice Cube).
James is a much taller, burly, no-nonsense police officer in Atlanta. He’s immersed in a tough case of trying to track down an elusive criminal named Omar who’s involved in the illegal gun trade, counterfeit passports and probably other stuff like driving without insurance. He’s bad but even worse than that, no one knows what he looks like.
What propels the plot forward is when Ben finally gets his acceptance letter to the police academy. Ben knows that he and James have not become fast friends (something about Ben accidentally setting James on fire), so he asks James for his blessing before he asks Angela to marry him. He agrees on the condition that Ben passes a test first: he must go on a ride-along to prove his mettle.
This is the ideal setup for a buddy cop movie. These two characters do not get along but they must find a way. Each has his own goal and throughout the story, the odd couple figures things out. Ben comes into his own and James comes to accept Ben. It’s all fairly standard and predictable fare but none of that takes away from the enjoyability of it all.
Ride Along is a fun ride but not totally funny. I wouldn’t say that I laughed out loud as many times as I was supposed to but I still enjoyed the movie a lot. It was a good story, good characters and a good rhythm. Apart from all that, Hart has all of the charisma (and limber vocal chords) that he needs to succeed in the business. All that Ice Cube needs is a snarl and a rather gruff attitude, but that works for him too.
In the end, the movie does what it should. It takes you from point A to point B to point C just as effectively as a tourist map. You know what you’re meant to see there, and you do. This is partly why buddy cop movies will always exist, just like tourist attractions. You know that there’s something out there that you still want to see and you want a guaranteed safe way to see it. Interested in seeing Bill Cosby and Robert Culp play secret agents? Watch the classic TV series I Spy. Prefer a rough-hewn crime drama set in Los Angeles with one renegade cop and his older partner who is ready to retire? There’s always Lethal Weapon. Looking for something in between, well there’s 48 Hours, Beverly Hills Cop and now Ride Along. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the trip.